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Foster parents ‘urgently’ needed in Timmins

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Foster parents and foster care workers teamed up to give back to the community on Friday.

They cooked burgers and hotdogs at Your Independent Grocer in Timmins to say thanks for any donations shoppers gave to the Timmins Food Bank.

They also said connecting in this manner is an opportunity to recruit new foster caregivers at the same time.

“Whether they want to ask what it is to be a foster parent from someone who has first-hand experience or they can speak to one of the workers as to what the expectations may be,” said Joel Van Dyk, a resource worker with NEOFACS.

Van Dyk said the need has never been greater for people to take in children who’ve experienced some form of trauma.

“If I speak just about our central campus, which is Timmins, in the last 10 years, we've definitely seen our number of resource homes or our foster homes drop by around 50 per cent,” said Van Dyk.

“So in Timmins alone, I believe right now we're sitting at less than 10 foster homes and especially homes that can take children, you know, eight to 10 years or older.”

Van Dyk said the critical shortage extends throughout the province and the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies is currently running a campaign it calls, ‘There to Care.’

A recent survey of child welfare agencies shows that 97 per cent are especially having difficulty placing young people between the ages of 13 and 18.

Eugene St. Jean, a therapeutic caregiver from Timmins, said you don’t need a degree in social work to be a foster parent.

“If you are a person like that who loves kids, teenagers, and you have space in your home and you feel that this is something you would want to do, reach out to NEOFACS and give it a try,” said St. Jean.

St. Jean said every foster parent receives extensive training and continued support.

“You have to remember when they come to us, they've had different degrees of trauma and, you know, some unfortunate experiences,” said St. Jean.

“So the training is worth it -- the process is worth it.”

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Officials said one of the misconceptions regarding foster parent recruitment is that NEOFACS wants a specific type of family. They said they’re actually looking for people from all walks of life, ages, genders, sexual orientations, ethnicities and religious backgrounds. 

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