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Children from these communities may have to go to Burns Lake or even Prince George to stay, which makes family visits and cultural connections harder to maintain. And the goal is always to try and reunite children with their families, if possible to do so, as well as to maintain cultural knowledge and identity, says Chesnutt.
The fact is, 80 per cent of foster children in the system are first nations, and the majority of foster families are non-first nations, so it becomes important to try and keep some sense of cultural identity for the children.
Chesnutt also emphasizes children’s needs are matched to the caregiver, to try and provide healthy homes.
There will be information sessions going on in both Vanderhoof and Fort St. James in January and February. The next one being February 2, at the College of New Caledonia (CNC) in Fort St. James from 10 a.m. until noon.
The information sessions will attempt to answer any questions or speak to any reservations people might have about becoming foster parents.
Foster parent training sessions will be offered at the CNC campuses in both Vanderhoof and Fort St. James. The Vanderhoof session will be March 17 to 18, the session in the Fort will be March 22 to 23 both sessions will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The training sessions are mandatory elements of being a foster parent in order to make sure it’s right for you and to answer questions you might not even think to ask. As well, the training sessions give scenarios to help prepare parents for issues which might arise.
In Chesnutt’s experience, the training, information and resources available now to foster families are “exceptional.”
To contact Chesnutt regarding foster parent training or ask her any questions related to foster parenting, call her at 250-996-8163 or email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org