Nova Scotia

Foster parents needed as Nova Scotia population ages

Nova Scotia's aging population is having an impact on the number of people available to foster children, according to the Department of Community Services.

Aging Nova Scotia demographics sees long-time foster parents retiring

The Department of Community Services is holding public information sessions to try and attract new foster parents. (CBC)

Nova Scotia's aging population is having an impact on the number of people available to foster children, according to the Department of Community Services.

Many foster parents are retiring, putting more pressure on those left behind.  

According to the Department of Community Services website, there are hundreds of children in Nova Scotia who need foster care. None of them are waiting to get care, but the number of people opening their homes is declining.  

Jennifer March, a social worker who handles recruitment for community services in Cape Breton, said everybody is "struggling with numbers."

"It's just like the rest of our community, an aging population," she said.

"We have a lot of people retiring from foster care and I think that's very much a trend across the province. And it certainly is a challenge across the province."

The department, in general, sees about 10 new foster parents a year in general, said March. She'd love to double that number and reduce some of the pressure on current foster parents. 

"Perhaps they're trying to do respite and full-time care for some of our children, as well as they may have more children in their home than they may like, but they're meeting all of those needs," she said.

"Extra people always takes a bit of demand off the system."

The Department of Community Services is holding public information sessions to try and attract new foster parents. Those sessions are going ahead in Sydney and Dartmouth next week

March believes people just need more information about what it takes to be a foster parent.     

"You hear about a foster parent in the news, it's often that these foster parents have been fostering for 35 years and people have made this lifelong commitment to foster care — which is wonderful and of course we'd love to keep a foster parent for that long. But, obviously, that might not be realistic for all families in our community," she said.

"If you're able to commit to a couple of years or five years, for whatever you think works for your family, that's fine with us."

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