Alberta's foster parents will receive an extra $4.1 million in 2008 to help cover the costs of raising a child, the government announced Tuesday.

The funding boost includes a 4.7 per cent increase to the basic maintenance rate as well as increases in skill fees and babysitting allowances.

"The foster parents in this province do a terrific job of providing safe homes for our most vulnerable young people," said Janis Tarchuk, minister of children and youth services, in a release.

"We're committed to supporting the important work they do, and the $4.1-million increase will help ensure they can continue to provide that safe place to call home." 

However, Norm Brownell, president of the Alberta Foster Parent Association (AFPA), said the pay boost will only help parents cover the increase in the cost of living.

Additionally, he said, the 4.7 per cent increase is also not enough to deal with the critical shortage of new foster families.

"Currently the fostering community is aging, there's no question about that, and to try and recruit new foster parents it's getting pretty tough," he said. "A lot of families are having to have both incomes like the wife and the husband income in the family, so that makes it a little more difficult to recruit too."

There are about 4,600 foster children in 2,300 foster homes across the province. Brownell said another 400 families are needed to keep up with the demand, particularly in Edmonton and in Calgary.