CDA hunting more foster parents
The Child Development Agency (CDA) is stepping up its drive to convince more Jamaicans to become foster parents.
The CDA recently partnered with a number of agencies to host just over 700 family members from its Foster Care Programme at the Hope Zoo, to mark the launch of the National Foster Care Week, which ended yesterday.
Speaking at the launch, CDA's Chief Executive Officer Rosalee Gage-Grey highlighted the need for persons to become foster parents.
"While it takes a community to raise a child, it takes the entire country to protect and raise its children. The Government, through the CDA and its sister agencies, is doing its part, but it will also take the hands and hearts of well-thinking, law-abiding Jamaicans, if we are to achieve this," said Gage-Grey.
"It does not matter how small a contribution/effort you make, we assure you that a small move will be a big step in helping to protect Jamaica's future," added Gage-Grey.
She was supported by executive chairman of the Guardsman Group, Kenny Benjamin, who noted the importance of the foster care programme and commended the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) and the PetroCaribe Development Fund (PCDF) for partnering with the CDA on such a life-changing scheme.
"We believe in securing the future of Jamaica. It is good to see families enjoying this day out and to see the smiles on the faces of these children being able to have access to the zoo and seeing the animals, it is a very heart-warming."
The PCDF and JSIF are funding a series of therapeutic sessions at the zoo with children in State care.
According to chief executive officer at PCDF, Dr Wesley Hughes, the objective of his organisation is to assist in the development of the most vulnerable among the population.
"To this end, a large part of our investment goes towards education, and Hope Zoo is seen as an important vehicle for assisting in the education and development of this vulnerable group.
"The therapeutic sessions will significantly aid the children in state care, and we are pleased to support this initiative," said Hughes.
"We recognise the importance of the sustainability of the environment and how critical it is for the coming generation to appreciate its worth. We are also cognisant of the significant role of the zoo regarding its therapeutic use to aid in the treatment of children in state care with various psychosocial issues," added Omar Sweeny, managing director of JSIF.
On becoming a foster parent
Foster care, like adoption, is managed by the CDA. Placing a child with a foster family is a legal process with various protocols to observe. Here are seven things you need to know:
1. Adults who want to become foster parents must be in good moral and legal standing. Applications can be made through the children's officer in each parish. The children's officer is usually located in the CDA's regional offices.
2. Prospective foster parents are ideally between the ages of 25 and 65. However, consideration can be given to persons over 65 years, particularly if the individual is a relative of the child and can demonstrate strong family support.
3. Prospective foster parents must prove they are gainfully employed or have a steady income in order to provide for the child's needs: food, clothing, shelter and education.
4. The Government offers a monthly allowance towards the maintenance of each foster child, as well as fees for clothing, books, school fees and medical bills, where necessary.
5. Prospective foster parents must be willing to undergo a period of training organised by the children's officer, to familiarise themselves with the CDA's expectations of caring for a child or children.
6. Foster parents should expect a CDA social worker to conduct periodic home visits to assess the environment in which the child will be residing. This will include interviews with them and members of their household. After a child is placed in your care, the social worker will continue to make regular visits to the home to determine that the child's well-being is being maintained.
7. Foster parents must be prepared to allow the foster child to maintain contact with his or her biological parents or relatives, and allow for the reintegration of the child once a recommendation to that effect has been made by the social worker.
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