While the staff at FACSFLA (Family and Children’s Services of Frontenac Addington) have been working hard for many years to provide the kinds of resources and supports that families in crisis need in order to keep children in the family home wherever possible, the fall back plan of placement in a foster home remains an important option for about 200 children in Kingston, Frontenac Lennox and Addington.
Establishing and maintaining Foster families is always a challenge. To meet that challenge FACSFLA is going to be holding a drop in event at their new Sydenham office on Tuesday May 29 from 7-9pm.
The office is in the former medical centre at 2876 Campbell Road, across from the ambulance station.
“Our catchment area is all of Kingston Frontenac and Lennox and Addington,” said John Suart of the FACSFLA communications department, “which is a large geographic area, the size of Prince Edward Island, so we need to reach out to the communities to try and build up as big and diverse a pool of potential foster families as we can to be able to serve the very specific needs of the children in our care. The number of children in foster care continues to decline, and the need for placement is greatest among the teenage population.”
Becoming a Foster Parent is a major commitment, and Tarra Williamson, the foster family recruitment lead for the agency, stresses that the first step is for interested people to learn about what is involved in fostering.
“The open house in Sydenham will be a low-key, drop in event. We’ll have lots of people there, including some foster families, to answer questions and pass on information and their own stories. We are only looking for a beginning with people who come out. There is no rush since we are looking to establish long term relationships with foster families,” she said.
Steve Woodman, Executive Director of FACSFLA, said “opening a home and heart to a child or youth that [people] do not know is a big request. It isn't for everyone. But some of the people hearing or reading about this would find their lives profoundly enriched by the experience of being a foster parent, of providing a stable loving environment for those who so desperately need it.”
FACSLFA has developed a website for prospective foster families, which spells out the 5 steps to becoming a foster parent. The first step is to contact the agency, which can be done by calling Tarra at 613-545-3227 ext. 5610 or to come out to the open house on May 29.
Open houses have been held in Napanee and Kingston, and this first one in Sydenham will also produce an opportunity for community members to visit the new FACSLFA office, which is being shared with the Maltby Centre (formerly Pathways for Children and Youth).
“Many people who read about this will not be interested, or in the right circumstances to become a foster parent, but we are hoping that they might know someone who is and will pass the information along to them,” said John Suart.