70 children are being fostered outside Waterloo region, organizers say more local homes needed Family and Children Services relies on outside paid resources to foster children outside region
Carmen Groleau · CBC News · Posted: Feb 05, 2024 6:00 AM EST | Last Updated: 5 hours ago
Sonia Dennis is the executive director of Children Services of Waterloo Region. She says a shortage of foster homes in the region is also being felt in other communities across Ontario. (Cameron Mahler/CBC) Family and Children's Services of Waterloo Region says they are in need of more foster families locally as more children are having to live with families outside of the community.
There are currently 70 children who are living with families outside of the region, executive director Sonia Dennis said.
"We are working very hard for those children to be able to come back to their home community," Dennis told CBC Kitchener-Waterloo's The Morning Edition.
Dennis said the majority of the children they work with are able to stay with their extended families, but for those being placed in another community, that can bring disruption to their lives. They may have to go to a different school, miss out on sport leagues they were a part of or be away from close friends.
"Sometimes if those children are being placed one or two hours away from their home, that's just an added stress, added trauma. Locally is where we'd like kids to be," she said.
In 2020, there were more 80 children living with families outside the region. Dennis said they haven't seen those numbers go down due to several factors, like more families and caregivers having to work. "We can always assist to work around that, but as well, we know that through the pandemic, many people said we're going to take care of our families and friends first and so the fostering pool went down as well,"
Chris Reitzel, service director with the organization, said they are in need of families to foster kids of all ages, from infants to 18 years old, as well as siblings. "We always try to keep [siblings] together and want to place kids whenever possible in the same home," she told CBC News.
Dennis added the organizations also needs families who have a background and knowledge of taking care of children who have "very high complex needs."
The Morning Edition - K-W
More foster families needed in Waterloo region
Children Services of Waterloo Region say around 70 children are being fostered outside the community because there aren't enough foster families locally. Executive director Sonia Dennis said there are several contributing factors and the issue is not unique to Waterloo region.
Shortage of foster homes not unique to region
She said a shortage of foster families locally is not an issue that is unique to Waterloo region. Children in Ottawa have had to stay in hotels and Airbnbs for months due to a shortage of foster homes there.
"Through our executive directors network, yes, we definitely hear from our colleagues across the province that they have to place children in hotels and Airbnbs and we've had to do that ourselves from time to time," Dennis said.
"We're very lucky that right now we have no children placed in those situations, but it could take one child that could put us in that position."
Dennis said the organization relies on outside paid resources to foster children outside the region and would like to see their internal resources grow to meet the need locally.
"How do we work with our ministry to move money to this local perspective so we can all care for kids," she said.
Link to Article in CBC news: 70 children are being fostered outside Waterloo region, organizers say more local homes needed | CBC News