More Foster parents needed
- Hundreds up for adoption and foster care
By Rabindra Rooplall
Forty children were fostered last year by the local foster care programme which is controlled under the Child Protection Agency, which also falls under Ministry of Human Services, which was established to focus specifically on the welfare of children.
Reports reveal that there are 23 homes, 20 of which are privately owned in Guyana, housing approximately 600 children, and of that number, 100 are in the three homes operated by the Ministry.
According to a source within the Ministry of Human Services, a significant number of children in the society are in need of better care, care that many parents were unable to provide.
It is estimated that foster care remains an area largely untapped, and with the legislation in place the Child Protection Agency has reportedly started screening “potential foster care parents.”
Several possible checks are made of potential foster parents in keeping with the rules of background, medical and police checks.
According to reports, the government intended to assist foster parents with a monthly package, but it was not a large sum. However, there was scope within the programme to assist in other areas, for example, helping a family to improve accommodation. It was noted that the pay package was not intended to draw people who “want to make a business out of this.”
The rules governing the foster care programme were fairly simple since the criteria included providing a child or children with a safe environment, in addition to having acceptable accommodation.
The foster parent is child centered, which means having the child’s interest at heart and ensuring that the child is cared for at all times.
While foster care has obvious benefits, the goal is to be able to reunite children with their biological parents, at the appropriate time. However, in the case of children who are orphans, plans would be made to have them find a permanent or substitute home.
The Childcare and Protection Agency Bill 2008, was tabled by Minister of Human Services, Priya Manickchand in the National Assembly in December 2008.
The agency is charged with promoting good parenting education, parental responsibility and practices and to assess applications for foster care, guardianship and adoption, and make recommendations and provide assistance to courts and other authorities involved in determining such applications.
In cases where the actions or conduct of a person have resulted in or are likely to give rise to abuse of a child, the agency is to make timely intervention.
The Child Protection Agency is also tasked with providing counselling and basic services for children in need of care and protection, including those under special vulnerabilities, like orphans, children infected with or affected by HIV and children with mental or physical disabilities.
“Children should not be in institutions; they should be with a family. A caring and nurturing family is what they need… living in an institution is a last resort,” the Ministry official said.
The Ministry at present is looking for persons interested in becoming foster parents. Foster parents will not necessarily have to be a married couple.
The statistics for adoption for last year indicated that 297 applications for adoptions were received: 138 local and 159 overseas. Most applicants submitted applications in September (13%), April (12%) and August (12%).
A total of 150 cases were presented to the Board; 140 (93%) were approved. Four were pending, three deferred, two absent and one rejected.