FRIDAY, MAY 4: Some of the island’s most vulnerable children are in ‘dire need’ of foster families to care for them.
As a result Family Services has launched a major drive to recruit new foster care providers to tackle the problem.
Selena Simons, Foster Care Coordinator, told the Sun only 16 new families came forward to offer their services last year.
She added: “In 2009, we managed to recruit 28 new families
“The problem we face now is that some foster parents have retired while others have decided not to foster any more.
“We are in need of new foster parents especially ones that can take on sibling sets so they don’t have to be separated.
“We also need them to provide respite to our full time foster care providers.”
The recruitment campaign coincides with Foster Care Month which began at the beginning of May.
At present, 97 children are in foster care throughout Bermuda.
And since the Sunshine League closed down in June 2011, the Foster Care Programme relies solely on private homes.
Ms Simons added: “Children are placed into our care for a variety of reasons including child abuse, parental substance abuse and abandonment.
“Foster parents can come from a variety of backgrounds. They can be single, married, divorced, widowed or even extended family.”
Barbara Belton became a foster parent to a six-year-old boy in September 2007 and says the experience has changed her life.
Mrs Belton, who is a single and self employed, said: “He has brought so much meaning to my life.
“He has taught me so much about life and I am humbled by the privilege of having this little person in my life.
“I have a great relationship with his family.
“They are very respectful and very appreciative towards me.”
Shirley Lodge adopted her daughter, Lindsay, when she was just a few months old and she has gone on to act as a foster parent to another five children.
Mrs Lodge has seen three of her foster children return to their natural parents.
She said: “I was very happy they were able to go back to their families.
“I loved caring for them but I prepared myself for what had to be done and I still see all of them around these days.
“It was not hard for me to do.”
Irene Francis was fostered as a child, and it is that experience that has driven her to foster five children in her life.
She said: “Being a foster parent is like my full time job.
“It has changed my life and brought me so much happiness.
“I had three children of my own but being a foster parent is something very special.
“I have to admit, I do spoil them a bit.”
• To find out more about becoming a foster parent call 294 5870 or 294 5871.