National Project Update– Every Child Matters: Strengthening Foster Families in Canada

The CFFA is working with the Child Welfare League of Canada (CWLC) on a two and a half year project that will bring together foster families across Canada. Foster families will be involved in consultations and focus groups, exchanging information during national teleconferences, and contributing to an understanding of how we recruit, train, and retain foster families nation wide.In May 2010, the project team met with the Directors of Child Welfare from across Canada and engaged them in the data collection phase of the project. This data differs from the national databases online in that the focus is on you. We need to know how many foster families there are in Canada in 2010, how you work with your private and public agencies, and why you leave fostering or choose to stay.

Data on pre approval and post approval training for foster parents was also collected from provincial and territorial training coordinators this spring. The models of training, training hours, and training modes (foster parent as lead trainer or co trainer) are different across this country. The project team also consulted with researchers in Canada who have surveyed foster parents and studied recruitment and retention strategies.
In June 2010, the team presented Every Child Matters at the annual CFFA Conference. After the presentation, delegates from across Canada shared information on the strengths, concerns and successes of their provincial/territorial foster care system. This information is being used to plan for upcoming project activities.

Children in care identify foster family care as their preferred alternative care provision (Flynn, 2003:194). The educational outcomes of children in care who live in foster families are higher than those children who live in other types of alternative care provision such as group or residential care options (Kluger, Alexander & Curtis, 2000). There is also considerable international research (Bass, Shields, and Behrman, 2004) supporting family based alternative care as the preferable care option for the child. In a word, foster family care is the best alternative out of home placement for a child who cannot live in the parental home.  The question becomes how to support this best alternative placement, and this project will indicate how this support works best across Canada.
What to look for this Fall?

  • CWLC will be going across Canada holding focus groups with foster parents.
  • A National Teleconference (with a toll free number of course!) with a lead Canadian researcher in the field of foster family recruitment and retention
  • An edition of Canada’s Children focusing on foster families.

There are many success stories in Canada to share, and many agency foster parent partnerships that are working well. Working together we achieve so much more!