There’s a new crisis looming for children in Canada today. The lack of willing and able foster parents has some provinces planning to place babies in group homes.
Prince Edward Island is struggling to place around 225 foster children in only five dozen homes, necessitating that five group homes in the province take on some babies who need housing.
While the situation hasn’t quite reached critical mass here in Ontario, there are concerns. From 2014 to 2015, there were approximately 21,314 foster children in Ontario, a decrease of nearly 2,000 from the prior year. During that period, an average of 4,800 foster homes were available compared to the 6,000 that were certified in 2010 and 2011.
As yet, no infants in Ontario have been placed in group homes, though if the trend continues, that option may be necessary in the future.
Statistics from the 2011 census indicated that 47,885 children were in foster care in Canada. Around 62 per cent were under the age of 15. Foster parents can expect a stipend, which is tax-free, of between $600 – $1,400 each month per child, although the payments don’t necessarily cover all expenses associated with rearing foster children 24/7 365.
These vulnerable infants and children are removed from the homes of their parents — sometimes on fairly flimsy grounds — and placed with total strangers, who may or may not have altruistic motivations for taking children into their homes. Certainly many foster parents are well-intentioned and do their best with the resources they are provided.
But that is not always the case. Foster parents can be under a great deal of strain and stress, as noted in a 2014 publication by Canada’s Child Welfare League. The report noted that foster care was in a critical state where recruiting might be necessary.
If you are a parent whose child is about to enter, or is already in, the foster care system, it can sometimes be difficult to regain custody without legal assistance. Matters involving the Children’s Aid Society may require professional guidance and advice.
Source: Toronto Sun, “Cribs on standby in group homes as national foster-parent 'crisis' deepens,” Kevin Bissett, June 21, 2016