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
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 showcasing a variety of guest speakers who assist in addressing changes that affect foster families across the province. This provides a forum where FPA presidents can come together, network and exchange ideas.
The FPSO works with the provincial government and 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
Ongoing, the FPSO and its members are faced with many challenges that the FPSO looks to provide education, guidance and knowledge on. These challenges include:
- Existing foster parents are getting older and retiring; and the new foster parents are not fostering for long term leaving gaps is knowledge and experience.
- There are many initiatives for recruitment from CAS’s, but 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 has a direct effect on supports for our most vulnerable children.
(Decline in availability of foster parents training, appropriate per diems and adequate supports for foster families.)
- Amalgamation of smaller agencies
(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)
- Expectations for foster parents are much greater, yet children are exhibiting more complex and difficult behaviors. Corresponding training and education is not always readily available.
- Competition within and from the privatized foster care system.