On June 22, 1973, the Foster Parents Association of Ontario was formed in Toronto at the Toronto CAS. The members were a group of Foster Parent Association’s representatives who met under the direction of the OACAS. This was the beginning of the FPA’s networking across Ontario. Initially, the FPAO had eleven (11) Regions whose representatives came from their foster parent associations or agencies. This continued until 1980, after which time funds generated, from conferences which enabled the representatives to be reimbursed for expenses. In 1986 the regions were realigned and increased to 21, matching the OACAS’s structure.
McMaster University was the location of the first Foster Parent Association of Ontario Conference, it was held in conjunction with the OACAS Conference in June 1975. For the next six years, the conferences were held bi-annually also in conjunction with OACAS. After this time the FPAO took on the responsibility of holding their own conferences in different areas of the province. In 1987, at the University of Guelph, during an Annual General Meeting the general membership of FPAO voted to become an incorporated body and become independent from OACAS. Incorporation was realized on March 29, 1990 and the Foster Parents Association of Ontario became the Foster Parents Society of Ontario. One of the very first major activities taken on by members of FPSO was the development of a mission statement, “The Foster Parents Society of Ontario is the dedicated voice of foster families in Ontario.”
The Foster Parents Society of Ontario (FPSO) is the dedicated voice of all Foster Families in Ontario. As a provincial association, the FPSO provides a strong, collective voice for local Foster Parents Associations to CAS agencies and the Ministry. This provides advocacy for foster families as well as the children in their care. FPSO is of the view that increasing positive outcomes for children in care is made possible by the many initiatives foster families undertake which nurture and strengthen relationships with foster children that last a lifetime
FPSO has worked with the Provincial government, other Associations locally, nationally and internationally. Members of the FPSO have sat on various task forces, committees and meetings that have dealt with such diverse topics as:
- Standardized Rates
- Insurance Plans for Foster Parents
- Legal funds
- The Future of Foster Care 1989
- Presentation of Briefs to the Ministry
- Input on the legislation of Corporal Punishment
- Bill #6 which was recently passed in March, 2000
- The New Funding Framework of Agencies and Foster Parents per diem
- Bill 210
The Ministry of Community and Social Services as well as various sections of the Child Welfare Community recognize the Foster Parents Society of Ontario as the “Official Voice” for all Foster Parents in Ontario.
The Foster Parents Society of Ontario is a dynamic organization that has continued to evolve. There are now 25 Regions with thirty-seven Foster Parent Association Memberships that represent over 5200 foster families. The FPSO Directors are active on many local, provincial and national committees.
To ensure that the local FPA concerns are raised to the provincial level FPSO hosts three Presidents meetings each year. We have scheduled many different guest speakers who will assist us in addressing changes that affect foster families across the province. This also provides a forum where FPA Presidents can come together, network and exchange ideas. FPSO assisted and promoted the creation of four zones (Western, Eastern, Central and Northern) that encourage foster families to join, discuss and bring forth issues to the provincial level. This year at our FPSO Presidents, FPA Executive and Advocates meeting on November 11th, 2011, FPSO is fortunate to arrange to have the panel hearing submissions on youth leaving care on from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. This will be a great opportunity for FPA Executive members to ensure that any ideas and that the voice of foster parents from across the province on this issue is heard.
FPSO has its own Website www.fosterparentssociety.org this site lists all new legislation and articles that affect fostering. In addition, FPSO has developed online training for foster parents and an interactive site for Presidents and Directors.
There continues to be a newsletter distributed to all paid members and agencies within the province. FPSO is a financially sound corporation with an “In good status” with the Ministry of Consumer and Corporate Affairs.
FPSO continues to hold its annual conference with an outstanding selection of training workshops, designed to enhance foster families skills in supporting and caring for the children and youth in their homes. FPSO Conferences continue to be superb events and the workshops are accepted for training credits for foster parents. In the last ten years it is estimated that better than 3500 people have attended the FPSO’s conferences. This year we were very fortunate to have Dr. Daniel Hughes do training on attachment. FPSO has provided advocacy training for foster parents who support other foster parents during investigations and service complaints which is a very stressful time. We have obtained feedback from agencies that this training has indeed helped in how foster parents perceive this difficult period.
FPSO has recognized the outstanding works of a member of the fostering community and has established a Youth Bursary Awards Program available to all natural, adopted of foster children of foster parents, which assists with post secondary education. FPSO presented the first Bursary awards in 1992 to two recipients totalling $800.00. FPSO is currently presenting up to 50 Bursary awards per annum. FPSO has presented a Foster Parents of the year award annually since 1990. FPSO also presents a Life Time Achievement Award was presented to those foster parents who have contributed beyond the normal expectations. The FPSO 2012 bursary edition of the FPSO HiĿites will be sent to your Foster Parent Associations in October, 2011.
Today there are many new challenges that FPSO is facing
- Foster Parents are getting older and the new foster parents are not fostering for long term.
- Although there have been many initiatives on recruitment, very little has been done on retention. There has been a steady decline in the number of foster homes in the province over the last 10 years.
- Ministry funding has been reduced to Children’s Aid Societies. This affects supports for our most vulnerable children, foster parents training, per diems and supports to our foster families.
- Agencies are amalgamating. The Ministry has set up a Commission “The Commission to Promote Sustainability in Child Welfare” to review the foster care system over the next three years.
- The Expectations of Foster Parents is much greater. The children have more difficult behaviours.
- There is competition with the private foster care system.
Please see the attached FPSO Corporate Accomplishments 2010 to view the work that your provincial association has completed over a one year period on behalf of the foster parents in Ontario.
Membership in FPSO ensures that your Foster Parent Association will continue to receive representation on the provincial level. Your FPA will receive copies of all minutes and correspondence from the Director and Presidents meetings and a copy of the Hilites newsletter for each of your foster families. Foster Parents have the opportunity to nominate candidates for post secondary bursary awards (FPSO awarded 31 bursaries in 2010); foster parent awards honouring foster parents for outstanding achievement and long term service, and the children’s annual poster and writing contests. Membership provides a reduced registration fee for the Annual FPSO Conference along with voting privileges at the Annual General Meeting.
FPAO/FPSO has grown tremendously over the past thirty years, has and will continue to represent the needs of the fostering community in their goal of strengthening the services they provide for the children in their care.
–updated Jan 2012