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Charity actively recruiting foster families to fill shortfall

2012/05/09 15:17:56

Taipei, May 9 (CNA) A local charity is trying to recruit more families to provide foster care for children who need homes amid a shortage of foster parents that is placing a heavy burden on families currently providing care.

"We are looking to recruit 999 foster families this year," Betty Ho, deputy executive director of the Taiwan Fund for Children and Families, said at a recruitment drive.

Ho said her charity has successfully placed 37,880 children and youngsters with 3,687 foster families over the past 32 years, with 2,431 children and youngsters receiving foster care last year.

But while the average number of children and youngsters needing foster care rose from 661 to 1,545 per month in 2011, the average number of available foster families increased at a much slower pace, from 816 to 938.

"That means each family has to take care of 1.6 children, and that is a great burden for them," Ho said.

The charity estimates that only one-third of the recruited foster families will stick with the program, but Ho said that would be enough to ease the burdens foster families now face and ensure that each child is given enough care and attention.

The charity said couples who have been married for over two years and are aged between 25 and 60 with at least a junior high school education level can receive training as foster caregivers.

Candidates are also required to have stable incomes and sufficient living space.

In addition, Ho said, social workers will evaluate the families based on how willing and able they are to provide a loving home for the children.

"It is a difficult task as 60 percent of the children and youngsters that we help place have been abused," said Ho, adding that the families have to demonstrate an immense amount of love and patience to take care of these children.

According to the charity, its longest-serving family has provided foster care for 28 years, its youngest foster parent is 30 years old and one of its foster families has taken care of 52 children.

Yang Ya-ting, who lived with a foster family from when she was 13, said in the beginning she didn't believe anyone would be able to love someone else's children as their own.

But Yang, who is now married and teaches in a kindergarten, said her foster parents changed her mind, and she now believes that "every child is an angel, and if you give them your undivided love, you are giving them a chance for a colorful future."

(By Christie Chen)