Family and Children’s Services Niagara is in dire need for foster families — with 11 babies currently requiring a home.

“I definitely would say that we have an urgent need for foster parents — across the board for all ages,” said Michelle Bernard. “But one of the things that we’re noticing most recently is the need for people to be able to care for babies under the age of 2.”

The service director of FACS’ resource department said the reasons a child comes into care are so diverse and complex that it would be difficult to pinpoint one primary issue to explain why the foster care need has shifted toward babies.

“I don’t know if there’s a specific reason,” she said, adding it’s something the organization asks itself as well.

In the past, there’s been a need for foster parents who could accommodate teenagers. The need fluctuates over time so Bernard said they are always looking for safe foster homes.

“We will always strive to do what we can as an organization to ensure that children’s safety and well-being is managed and maintained inside a family home.”

At any given point, FACS services roughly 800 families in the Niagara Region and has 425 children in care, according to Bernard. They currently have 144 foster families, but Bernard said the majority of their work is with families whose children remain in the home.

When a child does require foster placement, she said FACS makes sure they are matched appropriately with a foster family, looking at cultural diversity, the needs of the family and the needs of the child.

There is, of course, also training and requirements that potential foster parents need to complete — a vulnerable sector police check, health check and interviews with family members, for example.

But the most important requirement, said Bernard, is that people be non-judgmental, flexible, willing to learn and work with the organization and able to provide a loving household.

Each foster family and child in care is assigned their own respective support worker to assist with the transition and any of the child’s financial needs are covered by FACS.

“You won’t get rich fostering,” she said, but added, “the rewards that you receive for providing care to a child in need is outstanding.

“These are ordinary people but they’re extraordinary in what they do.”

Anybody wishing to become a foster parent — for full-time or even temporary respite on weekends or during summer months — or simply looking for more information can call FACS Niagara at 905-937-7731.

Source: Niagara This Week