CDA wants more wards of the State to be fostered
The Child Development Agency (CDA) has upped the ante in achieving its objective of having at least 75 per cent of children in State care, placed in family environments, through its living in family environments programme (LIFE).
Currently, there are approximately 4,500 children living in State care.
The LIFE programme is a major feature of this year's staging of National Foster Care Week, February 7-13, and will focus on promoting adoption and family reintegration. LIFE seeks to give children in State care, the opportunity to be exposed to a nurturing environment conducive to holistic development.
CDA's Public Relations and Communications manager, Rochelle Dixon, is therefore encouraging Jamaicans in good standing with the law, to consider fostering a child.
"We have close to 4,500 children living in State care who would really love the opportunity to be a part of a loving family, hence the rationale behind the observance," Dixon said.
This year's National Foster Care Week will be observed under the theme, 'Share your Home, Foster a Child'. Activities will begin with a national church service on Sunday at the Calvary Baptist Church in Montego Bay St James.
Several community walk-through initiatives will be conducted in Portland, Westmoreland, St James and Trelawny, to encourage more Jamaicans to become part of the programme. Several informational pop-up booths will be set up at various establishments across the island including Fontana Pharmacy in Montego Bay, St James and the Registrar General's Department on Duke Street in downtown Kingston.
Parenting workshops will also be a key feature of foster care week. To show appreciation for existing foster parents, the CDA will host a banquet at the Casa Maria hotel, St Mary and offer various excursion opportunities including a beach trip.
New foster parents will be trained and certified as the CDA embarks on various public education activities to heighten awareness.
In regards to certification and training, Dixon told The Gleaner that "All the foster parents are trained, because they have to understand the type of children that they are going to receive. These are wards of the State, so there will be challenges. Many of them would have gone through emotional, physical abuse, so you have to know how to deal with a child who is in State care and so we have to ensure that we train these persons who are coming on board, once they decide that they want to foster a ward of the State".
She mentioned that children who have been fostered in the past tend to excel in different aspects of their development as a result of the close knit family experiences they became exposed to.