Current trends show that
- the number of Canadian children in foster care is climbing,
- the preference for family-based care is increasing while the availability of foster families has failed to keep pace, and
- child welfare in general has room to improve.
What happens next – how can foster care be improved to help more kids succeed?
In 2008, researchers at the Child Welfare Institute (CWI) at the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto considered this in a detailed report, The Future of Foster Care. This report looked at the current foster care environment, interviewed experts working in foster care and related fields, and included an extensive review of documents that had been produced since 2000.
The Future of Foster Care
Focused primarily on foster care in Ontario, The Future of Foster Care looked at international systems to highlight a number of findings – some for future consideration, and some that supported work already in process.
For example, researchers observed that:
- The preferred model of care – with the best outcomes for kids – is family-based, with an individual care plan for every child.
- Foster care should move towards a more professional approach, with mandatory training and better compensation for foster parents.
- More attention should be given to outcomes: placements that work well or don’t work, transitioning from care, and ensuring kids who need help in school get it so they can finish high school.
The report also included findings that
- encourage more collaboration among Children’s Aid Societies and other organizations related to care,
- look at ways to improve foster parent recruitment and support, and
- consider other changes that could make foster care more positive for kids.
Treatment foster care is one solution
While the experts interviewed didn’t have one particular opinion about how regular foster care and treatment foster care – like that offered by Quinte Children’s Homes – might collaborate, they did agree that the needs for collaboration among foster care providers is growing: “With the advent of kinship care and permanency planning, the foster care population is beginning to serve a narrowing group of children and youth who have increasingly specialized needs.”
What positive changes would you like to see in the foster care system?