Foster Care is an alternative to Residential Care. It is a form of family-based care for children who cannot stay in their homes because they have been harmed or they are at risk if they remain in the care of their families or caregivers. Foster Care is a partnership between the Child Care Board and an approved individual or couple. These individuals are approved after a thorough investigation by an Officer of the Child Care Board. The Board provides ongoing support to the child/children placed with the approved foster parent(s). Support is also given to the foster parent(s).
There are two (2) types of foster Care namely: Short-Term and Long-Term.
Short-Term Foster Care may involve Emergency Care where foster parents provide short-term care at short notice, within twenty-four (24) hours, for children who are affected by emergency situations.
What is Foster Care?
Foster Care is a form of family-based care for children who cannot stay in their homes because they have been harmed or are at risk. It is a partnership between the Child Care Board and an approved individual or couple. The Board provides supervision and ongoing support to the child/children placed in the household and the approved foster parents.
Foster parents provide positive family experiences for children who have different needs and therefore require different types of care. As a result, foster parents may have to acquire additional parenting skills that will assist them in providing the care needed by the foster child.
What type of care can I provide?
There are three (3) types of foster care and these are:
Short-Term Care – Foster parents provide ongoing, day-to-day care to children and young people for a period not exceeding six (6) months while the department works towards reuniting the children with their families.
Long-Term Care – Foster parents provide children with a safe and stable home until they are eighteen (18) years of age because they cannot live with their families.
Emergency Care – Foster parents provide short-term care at short notice, within twenty-four (24) hours, for children who are affected by emergency situations.
Why do the children come into the care of the Child Care Board?
There are different reasons why children come into the care of the Child Care Board. These are mainly due to difficulties within the family, such as a mother going into hospital, homelessness, the death of a parent or guardian, abuse, neglect, parent’s inability to care, abandonment or Place of Safety Orders.
A child who has been affected in any of the above situations may be placed in Foster Care.
Who is eligible to foster a child?
According to the Child Care Board Act (1981 – 34)
- a husband and wife jointly
- a woman
- persons who are at least twenty-five (25) years and at least eighteen (18) years older than the child.
What qualities do I need?
A foster parent should have qualities that include being tolerant, flexible and non-judgemental, loving, honest, patient, understanding and willing to accept training and supervision.
Can foster parents "choose" the sort of child they wish to have?
“Choose” is the wrong word. Foster parents discuss with the Child Care Officers the age and sex of the children who they feel best able to help. Much of the success of fostering depends upon the particular child in the home and the ability of the foster parents to provide the needed care.
What about the child's parents and relatives?
The parents of the child continue to have their parental rights, however, there are situations where these rights are revoked and vested in the Child Care Board by the High Court or in the Court of itself. Relatives maintain their relationships with the child as long as they are in the best interest of the child.
It must be noted that all contact between parents and their children must be facilitated through the Child Care Board.
Do foster parents need to earn a certain level of income?
No, but the Child Care Board will want to know that they can adequately provide for their basic needs as well as those of the child.
Financial assistance in the form of monthly allowances as well as clothing, school supplies and medical assistance will be provided for the child where applicable.
Who will support me in my role as a foster parent?
Officers of the Child Care Board will support you through regular visits and supervision of the Foster Care placement. In addition, psychological and other counselling is available as the need arises.
Do foster parents need training?
Yes. To ensure quality care is provided to the children and young people in your care, all foster parents are required to undertake ongoing training. The training helps you to understand the foster care system, the types of experiences children in residential care have and the type of child who may be place in your care.
What are the challenges and rewards of fostering?
Some of the challenges include responding to children’s behaviours that you may not have previously experienced and being able to say goodbye to children when they return to their families.
Some of the rewards of being a foster parentincludee helping children to reach their full potential , keeping children in a safe and stable aenvironment, using your skills and life experiences for the benefit of others and ehhancing your knowledge base and parenting skills.
How do I apply to become a foster parent or obtain further information?
Walk in, telephone, write to the Child Care Board or contact us here.
Foster Care has been operational in Barbados on an informal basis for many years. However, it was implemented as an official programme of the Board during 1981-1982 when the Child Care Board’s Act was amended. Foster Care as a programme is designed to keep children in need of care and protection out of residential care and in the community, while still providing them with the needed love, care and protection. Foster parents are screened and thoroughly investigated before such placements are effected. Utilizing such community resources not only enhances the child care services but makes life more meaningful and productive for the children and for the foster parents.
The Board’s Foster Care Programme was preceded by a public relations campaign over a number of years. To this end, children were identified for possible foster placements and applications from prospective foster parents were received. The Board proposed to focus on placing younger children, younger being defined as any child six years old and under. Aggressive recruitment drives had to be implemented through media outreaches and through public education programmes. Unfortunately, these drives were not very successful in producing foster homes. The following reasons were offered:
- individuals did not fully understand the concept of fostering and viewed it as an extension of adoption
- they felt that the assessment process was too complicated and did not pursue it any further
- they were unsuitable candidates
The Board has focused once again on recruiting short-term foster parents and has extended this focus to incorporate the placement of disabled children with foster parents within the community. The Board envisages greater success in this programme.