Demand for foster parents growing in Cayman

The Department of Children and Family Services will host a foster parent orientation dinner on May 28 at Grand Old House for those considering becoming foster parents.

The meeting, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., will outline the department’s foster parenting program, along with the qualifications necessary to become a foster parent.

Foster parents are needed in Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac to ensure that children are not displaced from their communities, said Nicole Carter, the department’s adoption and foster care coordinator.

In particular, there is a need for foster parents who can take in sibling groups, children with special needs and teenagers, she said.

Foster care provides children with an alternative home where they can feel safe, valued, respected and cared for.

Foster families are needed for children ranging in age from birth to 18 years. There are different types of care that foster parents can provide, including respite care, emergency foster care, short-term and long-term care.

Ms. Carter said times have changed, impacting the traditional nuclear family and increasing the demand for foster care.

“Cayman of old had a culture of caring for the family and the extended community. People knew their neighbors and believed in being one’s keeper. As we become more ‘advanced,’ we are losing this community spirit and becoming more individualized and living in our own bubble,” she said.

“Who should parents turn to when they cannot cope? It is the children who are suffering.” A person can become a foster parent if he or she is over age 18 and younger than 65, regardless of religious, cultural or ethnic background or marital status or immigration status.

Those with a disability or medical condition can become a foster parent, providing it does not affect their ability to care for a child.

Foster parents should enjoy caring for children, have no police record and be available to meet with the people involved in the child’s life.

“Children and young people in foster care need a lot of things like security, love, patience, kindness, honesty, openness, tolerance and understanding,” Ms. Carter said. “You could be a role model, you could help them grow up to be responsible adults, living their lives to the fullest, showing them how to meet and cope with the challenges that face all of us at different stages in our lives.”

Fostering is generally for a limited period – perhaps a few days, a week, a month or a year or more.

“No matter how brief the encounter, the reward is in knowing you made a difference,” she said.

For more information, contact the Fostering Unit at 949-0290.