Western Region Leads the Way in Foster Care Programme

Persons in the Western Region, which covers the parishes of Hanover, Westmoreland, St. James and Trelawny, continue to lead the rest of the regions islandwide, in opening homes to children in the Foster Care programme.
According to Greig Smith, Children’s Officer in the Child Development Agency (CDA) assigned to the parish of Westmoreland with special responsibility for Foster Care, this has been the trend for some time as in his parish alone, there were some 94 children in foster care, in 70 homes.
He explained that there were several factors which have contributed to the success of the programme in the west. “Parents that we do have are returning residents from abroad. We do have single parents and couples, who really want to help,” he told JIS News.
“Some have children of their own but it is also how we spread the message in the region. We encourage persons to come out and we do have foster care parents’ associations, which are very vibrant. What we also realize is that usually one foster care parent who is a part of the association also recruits parents and so the interest has continued over a period of time,” Mr. Smith noted.
The family, he elaborated, was the preferred environment for raising a child and this reason remained paramount in the western region.
“There are so many success stories. we have children now in universities, children pursuing CXCs and we have children presently here in Westmoreland doing GSAT and who have been excelling in school,” he added.
Mr. Smith pointed out that in comparison to children in foster care abroad, the children in the programme in Jamaica were doing exceptionally well. “I will say even better than their [counterparts] but, we really have not highlighted these success stories,” he said.
“If we are to do a further comparison with the United States, we are doing pretty well so far in terms of trying to place children in foster care. To date, we have over 5,000 children who are wards of the state and approximately 1,148 of them, which is 22 per cent, are placed in Foster Care,” Mr. Smith noted.
Foster Care Awareness Week (February 11-16), which was first observed last year, seeks to highlight the success stories in order to encourage others to come on board the programme.
Foster Care is the legal process that allows a person, who is not the biological parent of a child, to raise and provide a nurturing environment for the physical, emotional and spiritual growth and development of that child.
The CDA uses foster care as a tool to provide a safe haven for children, who have become wards of the state as a result of being abused, orphaned, abandoned, neglected or who cannot be cared for by their parents.

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