Tuesday 23 July, 2019

Holiday placement programme boosts interest in foster care

Over 300 children spent Christmas away from residential care facilities and surrounded by the joy of family during the season, up from 200 in 2017. Photo via iStock

Over 300 children spent Christmas away from residential care facilities and surrounded by the joy of family during the season, up from 200 in 2017. Photo via iStock

The Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) is reporting a strong take up of its 2018 Take a Child Home for Christmas Programme.

Over 300 children spent Christmas away from residential care facilities and surrounded by the joy of family during the season, up from 200 in 2017, CPFSA said in a statement.

Of this number 165 children were hosted by 148 non-relatives, 129 of whom were new applicants to the programme.

The agency went on to thank Jamaicans who participated in the programme, making the holidays even more enjoyable for more children.

“We are truly elated by the response to the 2018 staging of the Take a Child Home for Christmas Programme. Based on the feedback we received, both the children and their host families enjoyed the experience with many committing to continue with the programme or seeking ways to develop longer relationships with the children. We’ve even had a few parents saying they are now ready to pursue Family Re-integration to have their children home permanently,” Rosalee Gage-Grey, CEO at CPFSA explained.

But while the agency is excited about the growing interest in the programme from both family members and the public, the CEO says the initiative has yielded additional benefits including increased enthusiasm for foster care.

 

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“What we also saw, were more queries about foster care with persons expressing a willingness to be a part of the programme. Our Children’s Officers are now working with these families, some of whom have already submitted applications. This is a big gain for us as we believe that the best place for a child is in a nurturing familial environment, therefore we have been actively promoting our Family Re-integration and Foster Care programmes as alternatives to institutionalisation. Ideally, we want the children to be home permanently. But if they have to be in state care at all, we would like it to be in foster care,” Gage-Grey said.      

The CPFSA Holiday Placement programme began more than 10 years ago, as a drive to encourage parents and family members to take their children from State care during holidays. This, the agency hoped would assist to promote Family Re-integration. 

Over the years, however, based on requests usually from volunteers, to host children during holidays, the privilege was extended to the public and the Take a Child Home for Christmas programme was coined.

Since then the annual initiative has been gaining traction, yearly garnering more support from persons island-wide. Due to the demand this year, the application deadline for the programme was extended by a week. 

The CPFSA is observing its 13th annual National Foster Care Recognition Week from February 10 - 16, 2019 under the theme, “Give Love, Inspire Hope, Foster a Child”. The week of activities commenced with a church service at Ocho Rios Baptist Church.

In 2006, the second week of February was designated as National Foster Care Recognition week, by the then Governor General, Sir Kenneth Hall, to highlight the important contribution that foster parents make to national development; to encourage citizens to become more involved in the programme and to showcase the achievements of children in foster care.

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