The Child Development Agency (CDA) will be celebrating the first ever National Foster Care Recognition Week from February 12 to 19, under the theme: ‘Family is Love’. Observation of the special week results from the agency’s intensive push to channel more wards of the state into foster care and out of government institutions.
According to Alison Anderson, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the CDA, the week would serve to not only make more persons aware of foster care, but also to recognise and honour those persons who have shown dedication and commitment to fostering the nation’s children. “The agency is committed to family based care, and foster care is one such option to achieve this commitment,” she told JIS News. Miss Anderson said the agency would take the opportunity during the week to recruit more foster parents by conducting a number of promotional and recognition activities. Events will include an awards banquet to recognise outstanding foster parents, a road show, and a church service. “We will have an exciting package put together because we really want to sensitise the public and put foster care out there,” she said. “We are also trying to get some famous faces for our foster care recruitment campaign to help in the dialogue about the importance of family care and why it is important,” Miss Anderson added.
Over the past two years the CDA, in an attempt to galvanize interest in the foster care programme, has been canvassing Parent Teachers Associations (PTAs) and Service Clubs, in addition to visiting communities and having dialogue with persons. Help for this recruitment effort has also come from existing foster parents who are encouraging others to participate in the programme.
The CDA’s regional offices – North East, Western, Southern and South East – are integral to the recruitment drive, as each has a target to bring in more parents in the system, have them trained and approved. By extensively promoting the programme, the CDA will eventually be able to reduce the number of children in government institutions as well as the cost of running them, and would be able to pay more attention and give better care to the children that remained.
The CDA is an amalgamation of three Departments within the Health Ministry – Adoption Board, Children’s Services Division and Child Support Unit. It came on stream on April 1, 2003 to deal with new standards and regulations for the operation of children’s homes and places of safety, among other issues. To date, the CDA has placed more than 1,200 children in foster care.