Foster families open hearts

letter to the editor

To the editor;

This October marks the 21st year of celebrating Foster Family Month in British Columbia – an important chance to honour the incredible work of foster families across the province.

Every child and teen is unique and everyone needs, and deserves, a safe and welcoming home. Foster families take on one of society’s most important jobs – caring for children and youth at a time when they need it the most.

To all the foster parents and families in British Columbia, I want to extend our profound thanks. Your love and care give children and youth in difficult situations the support they need to develop into strong, confident adults. It truly takes someone special to be a foster parent.

Every day across British Columbia, around 3,300 foster families open their hearts and their homes to about 5,900 vulnerable children and youth. However, B.C., like so many other jurisdictions in the world, always needs more foster families of all cultural, social and ethnic backgrounds. Anyone 19 years or older can make the decision to open their home to a child or youth in need of care. The most important qualifications for a foster parent are a strong desire to make a positive difference in a child’s life, and a commitment to provide a safe, nurturing, stable home for children when they are not able to live with their family. I encourage anyone interested in becoming a foster parent to call the Foster Line at 1-800-663-9999.

Foster parents bring different life experiences to their role and have different reasons for doing the work they do. But from Agassiz to Atlin, and Kimberley to Kitwanga, B.C. foster parents all have one thing in common – they are ordinary citizens engaged in extraordinary acts of kindness.

The B.C. government supports a continuum of services that help children and youth who are separated from their families through the different challenges and stages of life, but it is truly foster families who make the difference, by providing them with a safe, nurturing place to live. In doing so, foster parents help not only the young people for whom they are caring. They perform an invaluable community-wide service for all of us.

I am grateful for the important work undertaken by foster families and agencies such as the B.C. Federation of Foster Parent Associations and the Federation of Aboriginal Foster Parents that support them.

I hope you will join me in celebrating foster families now and throughout the year.

Mary McNeil

Minister of Children and Family Development