Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the house today to recognize the important role that foster parents play in the lives of children… I am also very pleased that this government is following through with a promise it made in the last election campaign to increase the monthly compensation rates for foster parents.
Mr. Speaker, the impact that foster parents have on the children they care for is immeasurable… helping a child who needs a safe haven during difficult times in their young lives can be one of the greatest and most rewarding ways we can make a difference.
Mr Speaker, on average there are approximately 225 children in care each year on Prince Edward Island.
Unfortunately, the number of foster parents across the province is declining… currently, we have approximately 70 foster families available to help care for children.
Mr. Speaker, foster parents are as diverse as the children in need of safe homes. There are foster parents who own their own homes and foster parents who rent. Some foster parents are married with families and some are single; some live in common law relationships or with same sex partners. However, Mr Speaker, all foster parents share a commitment to caring for children who are coping with difficulties.
To help recruit more people to the rewarding role of a foster parent, the Province will be increasing the monthly compensation provided to foster parents by $200 per month.
Foster parents provide short or long-term care for children up to 18 years of age. Foster parents receive monthly compensation to meet the protective, developmental and basic needs of children placed in their homes.
Mr. Speaker, we have been working very closely with the PEI Federation of Foster Families and appreciate the Federation’s efforts in working with us to recruit and retain foster parents in our province.
We have listened to our partners and recognize that fostering children is a demanding role and we are hopeful that this increase will help to make this vital service more attractive to those who may be interested in becoming a foster parent.
Mr Speaker, foster parents can change the lives of the children they care for. They open their homes and their hearts to provide children with the safety and security they need during difficult times.
These are the true gifts that our children will carry with them for the rest of their lives and we all appreciate the work our foster parents do to contribute to a richer society for all Islanders.
Mr Speaker, for those who would like more information about becoming a foster parent, the Province has created a website dedicated to information about becoming a foster parent. More information is available at www.gov.pe.ca/beafosterparent.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.