Youth protection services seek 50 families to foster children

Montreal's youth protection services are launching an appeal to recruit dozens of new foster families to meet a rising demand.

“We're trying to prioritize the children's needs so that's why we're in search of 50 foster families,” said Assunta Gallo, director of youth protection for local health board the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l'Ile-de-Montreal.

The goal is to find a diverse pool of candidates to house children temporarily. There is a need in all age groups from 0 to 18 years old and in different neighbourhoods and cultural communities all over the island.

Youth protection also wants to find households of different religions and cultures in order to match the identities of the young people. Same-sex couples are welcome to apply.

“You need a family to help you to feel secure. It's not about being loved, it's about being secure,” said Nancy Audet, youth protection ambassador for the Montreal Youth Centre Foundation. A former sports reporter, Audet knows the life of a foster child first hand – she grew up in an abusive home before she was placed in youth protection.

"I realized that these placements allowed me to catch my breath when I was going through a lot of violence and suffering," she said.

The island of Montreal currently has 700 foster families; youth protection typically selects 11 to 15 new families each year. Over the years, many have withdrawn because they moved, or because their role was considered too difficult, or because they retired. 

"Being a foster family means dealing with a child who comes to your home temporarily. You open your heart and your family to them, and maybe after six months, the child leaves," said Gallo, who stressed the importance of foster families in the development of troubled youth.

Factors including the pandemic, and a drop in funding for support programs have led to the need for more families, said Audet.

“This is what those kids need: to be secure, to know nothing will happen to them, not physically, not mentally,” she said.

The selection process is divided into various stages, and takes several months. Among other things, applicant families have to pass interviews and a skills test. Their interpersonal skills and personal characteristics are also evaluated by youth protection workers.

For more information or to apply to became a foster parent, click here or call 514-356-5435.

- With files form The Canadian Press

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