Island in need of foster families

Monday, November 24th, 2014

The Human Development Department (HDD) in San Pedro is recruiting foster families to assist in caring for distressed children. Currently there are only four foster families on the island who care for a growing number of children that need to be relocated from their families. HHD’s aim is to create a large network of foster families so that more children can be cared for in a timelier manner. HHD is tasked with solving issues involving child protection, domestic violence and community rehabilitation.45 FosterCare
According to HHD officer in San Pedro Adan Kay, child protection is one of the main focuses for the island as there are several children being mistreated. Removing children from their homes is difficult as there is no institution to care for them on the island. Foster families can alleviate this problem since they can be housed while permanent arrangements are made. “When there is a child living under a situation that is no healthy for their growth and development, HHD steps in. If the situation is drastic we remove the child from the home while we try to work with the parent in resolving the issue. The problem in both San Pedro and Caye Caulker is that there isn’t a government facility to house these children and we don’t have sufficient foster families to assist us. What we want to achieve is to have a list of foster families that are available when emergencies present themselves,” said Kay.
There are several different types of fostering families that are needed. “We have different types of fostering available. You can choose to foster children only in cases of emergency. These cases range from an overnight stay to a weekend. You can also foster a child for a week or till we can locate other family members that would wish to care for the children,” said Kay. Person wanting to foster children for a longer period of time can choose the short or long term, which range from three months to three years. “A short term foster would be anything from a week to three months. During this time HHD will determine whether the parents of the child can be rehabilitated and the child returned to them. If the case is not so then the parents will be taken to court so that custody of the child can be taken from them. A long term foster is from a year to three years. This is done for families that would like to adopt a child. During this time they work on a relationship with the child and determine whether adoption is the right choice,” said Kay. Families can also choose to foster children during vacation.
Many of the children in need of foster care come for dysfunctional families. Kay explained that removing a child from its home is usually the last resort and is only contemplated when the child’s well-being is at risk. “There are several reasons why a child is removed from its families. Some of the main reasons include physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, mental disability, and drug abuse and alcoholism on behalf of the parents. Another reason for a child to be taken away is if his/her parents simply cannot protect or provide for the child,” said Kay.
Residents are encouraged to become foster families and assist in the protection of our minors. To become a foster family visit the Human Development Office located in Four Sisters Plaza on Pescador Drive to pick up an application form. For more details on fostering a child contact Adan Kay at phone number 631-0718.

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