Foster care is so established in Canada that you might think things are pretty standardized, which is true regionally, but legislation and guidelines are different from one province to the next.
What does that mean?
For those trying to get a sense of what’s happening across the country, it can be a challenge. With a slightly different system in each province, it’s hard to create one clear picture. Even the definition of child changes from one province to the next.
These differences also mean that comprehensive reports that compare statistics are less than frequent. However, even with regional differences there are some common trends in foster care across the country. Here’s an overview.
A look at the statistics
In general, the number of children in care has been on the rise:
- A look at the numbers in 2007 found that after years on the rise, the number of Canadian children in care was an estimated 67,000.
- Statistically, that means for every 1,000 children in Canada 9.2 of them are in foster care. In comparison, the ratio of children in care in the U.S. was 6.9 per 1,000.
One Canadian study (Trocmé, Fallon, MacLaurin, & Neves, 2005) connected this increase to greater recognition and reported cases of neglect over the last decade.
At the same time, the number of resources , and the number of available foster families in particular, has not kept pace.
- From 2000 to 2007 the number of children in care in Ontario increased by 24%.
- The number of foster families increased by 14%; other care options, like group homes, carry the difference.
One study by the Child Welfare League of Canada says the lack of foster families stems from issues recruiting and keeping foster parents. “Ongoing challenges identified by the Canadian Foster Family Association (CFFA) include training, access to information about children in care, support, adequate compensation, and feeling value or recognized as a member of the team.”
Finding solutions for Foster Care Statistics
The ideal solution for kids who are unable to stay with their birth families is to be in a family environment. A foster family can provide a home for up to four children.
Kids who are in permanent care, known as Crown wards, aren’t left without additional support. Provinces like Ontario are promoting adoption, both raising awareness of the need for permanent families and making it easier for families to adopt.
At Quinte Children’s Homes, we know that a stable family environment can make a huge difference for youth who’ve had to face a lot of challenges and disruptions. One of our priorities for the foster families who work with us, what we call Parent Therapists, is to address the concerns flagged by the CFFA with a solid training and support program.
For more information on Foster care check out these blog posts: