There are currently more than 600 children in State care. However, through the Ministry of Social Protection’s Foster Care programme, these children could be better cared for. This is according to information released by the Social Protection Ministry even as the observance of Foster Care Month commences.
The Social Protection Ministry, through its Childcare and Protection Agency, has designated the month of November Foster Care Month to increase awareness of the Foster Care programme and to obtain support and ‘buy-in” from the community. The month of activities is being observed under the theme “Parenthood is more than just DNA, mentor or foster a child in need of care today.”
Foster Care is seen as an important alternative since according to Ministry officials “the majority of children in residential (State) care could in fact benefit from positive family-based care.” However, there are not enough foster care parents to make a dent in residential care. Moreover, the Ministry expressed hope that “at the end of this awareness month, the core list of Foster Care Parents would increase with new parents coming on board.
The Ministry has noted that while every child has the right to be cared for by his or her biological parents, sometimes there is need for a child to be temporarily removed due to severe threat to the child’s safety and wellbeing. At these times, care giving in a family setting is more desirable as opposed to institutional care. Foster Care offers continued family-based care, support, guidance and love to a child until the child can safely return home.
However, it is to be noted that much effort is being made to provide support for the family and extended family to prevent the separation of children. It is only when these efforts prove insufficient and not appropriate that foster care is considered.
During this period of observance, there are several awareness activities planned to sensitize the public about the Foster Care and Mentorship programme and to gain support and buy-in for persons to come on board to become foster parents or mentors. One such event is an Awareness Walk today (Thursday, 1 st November, 2018) from 15:00 – 18:00 hours from Bank of Guyana to the Seawall Band Stand.