No foster homes available for youth across Guelph, Wellington County

·3 min read

GUELPH – There are no foster homes available for youth across Guelph and Wellington.

Asking for help in a social media post last week, while the current shortage of foster care providers means that children in need of homes are placed in private foster or group homes, but Family & Children Services Guelph and Wellington County executive director, Daria Allan-Ebron said Guelph and Wellington are not alone in the shortage.

“When we are working with children and youth in our community, we are always wanting to emphasize the fact that we make all of our best efforts to keep kids at home,” said Allan-Ebron. “A successful story in that regard would be for those children to be cared for by supportive and loving caregivers who have an interest in helping them grow and develop and meet their fullest potential while they are in a position of providing care to them.”

According to Allan-Ebron, one misconception about foster care is that signing up to be a foster parent is akin to adoption. In reality, the organization is often looking for safe temporary homes for children who might not have anywhere else to go while their original home isn't available.

“I think the connections that are built throughout that process allow children for the best opportunity in some really complicated situations,” said Allan-Ebron. “We do hear from foster caregivers who have found it to be a rewarding experience and that these are kind and caring people in our community who just want to provide a safe and supportive environment for any youth that may be placed in their homes.”

While she doesn’t have a number for how many kids need homes, Allan-Ebron says around 150 children and youth are currently being supported in the community and that “it's really important to have as many homes as possible.”

“When we are in situations where we're looking for a foster care placement, it allows us to look at the unique needs of any one of these children or youth and make sure that we have an appropriate match,” said Allan-Ebron. “We do look to make sure that we are trying our best to place children in culturally-matched homes and we work hard to ensure that happens and so the more families that we have available to provide care the better we're able to do that.”

The organization is currently looking for foster homes for children, teens, and sibling groups, as well as culturally-diverse homes for BIPOC and 2SLGBTQIA+ children.

“We know that identity, tradition, and cultural connection are essential and important for children, youth, and families,” said Allan-Ebron. “We work to understand the children and youth and families that we're servicing and look to find an appropriate caregiver that would be able to help and support the identified needs of those children and youth.”

As a part of their #ForgetMeNot Campaign for the Children and Youth in Care Day on May 14, several former foster children and their caregivers shared their experiences within the system.

“(Severn) came into my life at the perfect time, right when I needed her the most,” said Sam, one of the former foster kids in a video for the campaign. “I’m so thankful for her, she really was there for me.”

To become a foster parent, applicants must complete a standardized assessment (also called a home study) and attend 30 hours of online training, as well as be partnered with a support worker. All foster families receive a daily, non-taxable reimbursement for the living expenses of each child or youth placed in their home, in addition to covering other expenses like clothing, medical and dental costs.

Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.

Isabel Buckmaster, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,