More foster parents needed on P.E.I., says Child Protection Services
'It's been very fulfilling for me ... I'd definitely recommend it for anyone'
A new campaign has been launched to help recruit more foster parents on P.E.I.
There are 76 contracted foster parents on the Island, said Melissa Walsh, a social worker with Child Protection Services. But she said more are needed, especially foster parents who can care for toddlers.
"Our goal is to always reunite children with their families, and sometimes for different circumstances they can't go back to their families so the more foster parents we have the best chances for the children."
The new campaign, called Hope is Where the Heart Is, provides information on becoming a foster parent and includes a video of foster parents sharing their stories.
Foster families can come in many different forms, Walsh said. Lori Johnston, for example, has been a foster parent while she's been single, married, and with and without her own children.
"It's been very fulfilling for me and I think I've really enjoyed the process of being a foster parent and I'd definitely recommend it for anyone."
Some foster children have been with her for short terms, and others for longer periods.
"One of them I had for quite a long period of time and she's still family so that's nice for my girls," she said.
"You get so attached to the children, sometimes it's hard. You know the best thing for them, of course, is to return home. But after having them in your home for so long you get really close to them so it's difficult that way."
'Respite' foster parents
Walsh said there is also a need for "respite" foster parents, who may not be able to take a child full-time but can offer a break at certain times to those who do.
"It's like the child going to grandma's house," she said. "You can build a relationship with one child or children that might be in two different foster homes and they might be able to go into respite once a month in the same foster home together."
Foster parents receive monthly support for financial expenses, as well as guidance from the PEI Federation of Foster Parents. There is also a support group that meets once a month.
"We can discuss with other foster parents what we're going through, what questions we have, what do you do in this circumstance," Johnston said.
"So that can make the difficult things a little bit easier when you know you've got somebody else having your back."
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With files from Stephanie Kelly