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Alberta seeking more foster parents

The thought of becoming a foster parent may have crossed the minds of some Albertans as there is a need to pay it forward by being of service to children in provincial care.

Children services officials note a decrease in the number of foster parents available across the province and want to raise the number by some 100 placements over the next year.

Melissa Jones, executive director with the Alberta Foster and Kinship Association says the need is greatest in smaller and rural communities and also, many foster parents who have been involved over the years are retiring.

In her own life, Jones has had foster siblings as her parents took on the role of being foster parents when she was 15.

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“I’ve experienced it firsthand as a sibling to many foster children who I am still positively connected to and it’s a lifelong connection that you make with these children even if it’s only a temporary placement.”

The Alberta government has launched a promotion called Just Like You as they aim “to encourage Albertans to become foster parents and provide loving homes for children and youth in care.”

Jones says they want to have the children closer to natural family support to keep them connected to the communities they are familiar with, but that is a challenge in smaller communities where the number of available foster parents is low.

“The natural supports and connections that are so important to them are not there to help maintain and mitigate further unnecessary impact to their mental wellness. And so it’s really important to try to keep them within their own communities surrounded by those natural supports that they have in place.”

Jones says children in care have repeatedly said that having that one person in their life makes such a big difference. Also the process affords numerous supports and learning for the development of the foster parent as a caregiver.

“I really believe there are people out there that probably have thought about being a foster parent, but just haven’t done anything about it. I think right now the awareness campaign is just to say,”If you have thought about it – look into it, because this is the time you might be able to help support a child through a really tough time.”

More details on the process to become a foster parent can be found on the Alberta Foster and Kinship Association website or from Alberta Children Services at 1-844-957-0552 or emailing [email protected].

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