Affordability a challenge for B.C. foster families

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VICTORIA – On Oct. 7, 2014, New Democrat spokesperson for children and family development, Doug Donaldson, gave the following statement in the house in recognition of Foster Family Month:

“If you know people in your communities who open up their homes to children in care of the province, then you know that they’re a special breed. These are folks who often have their own children, with all the absolute joy and regular challenges that entails, yet find enough time and energy to make room for kids who need some stability and love in their lives.

“October is Foster Family Month, which provides an opportunity to salute the more than 3,000 foster families in the province that open up their homes to more than 5,000 vulnerable children and youth. It’s difficult to overstate how much of a commitment foster families demonstrate towards a greater common good, and more of these families are needed.

“Yet sometimes we hear criticisms of those foster parents that are in it for the money. Nothing could be further from reality. The last time foster care rates in B.C. were raised was five years ago. That was an increase of 2½ to 3 per cent. Think about what’s gone up since then that all families face. Hydro rates this year alone are up 15.6 percent, ICBC rates have increased by14 percent since 2009, and school costs associated with activities like sports and arts have jumped. They aren’t motivated by the money, but all this impacts foster families disproportionately.

“Luckily, some people are trying to make life more affordable for foster families and kids in care. The Representative for Children and Youth, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, has a successful initiative encouraging B.C. post-secondary institutions to waive tuition fees for children in care. She has seven colleges and universities signed up, and it’s hoped that the savings will be passed on to the children, because these are kids who deserve a break.

“As the spokesperson on Children and Family Development for the official opposition, I invite all members of the Legislature to join me in thanking foster families in this province.

“It’s wonderful what you do, and the province needs more of you.”