The government is encouraging foster care and adoption through the fostering system’s campaign “Give hope, to choose fostering.”
In a press conference on Monday, Social Policy and Children’s Rights Minister Michael Falzon encouraged people to apply to become foster carers. He said that foster care received its recognition in the law officially in 2020.
Falzon said that financial aid has increased from €70 per week to €110 per week, but assured that for many foster carers, money is not the main driver, but the human gesture and their ability to open their hearts and homes to children who need it is.
He said that around 450 children are currently under the State’s care, with around 200 of them with foster carers, and the remaining in residential homes, emphasising that the homes are not institutes.
“Under all circumstances it is better for these children to go to foster care than residential homes as they would benefit from foster care more. There is a concept of permanence and stability, and reassurance from both the foster carer and the child,” Falzon said.
He said that up until a few years ago, before the law established in 2020, foster carers needed to have been fostering for 10 years to apply for adoption of their foster child.
In 2020, this was reduced to five years, and in exceptional cases, even in the best interest of the children, foster carers may apply to adopt them after three years, if there is permanence and stability, Falzon said.
Falzon appealed for more local adoptions and for foster carers who want to adopt to take the step forward.
Director of Alternative Care (DAC) Remenda Grech said that the demand for fostering remains present and the Foundation for Social Welfare Services believes that each minor should be raised in a loving environment, and that all children deserve a family environment, even those reaching teenage years.
“As it is fostering, children from different backgrounds should be rehomed to a loving environment, then, if their parent or parents have reformed, can come back for them,” she said.
Grech said that the 2020 law ensured stability between the foster parent and foster child.
FSWS CEO Alfred Grixti said that two and a half years ago, the landmark law on the protection of minors and alternative care was established, and the law is working, he said.
Grixti mentioned the parliamentary question asked last week that Child Protection Services have investigated 2,185 reports of care orders, of which not all received one. He said that the demand is growing and continuing to grow, and everyone should feel responsible for these children, appealing for people to apply for foster caring, in a sense of duty.
“Fostering is not charity but these are our responsibility and we must do something for them. We are investing in the present and future of our country. Foster carers have told us that they have received more than what they gave from foster caring. Choose fostering,” Grixti said.
Falzon was pressed by the media to say what government will do if the amount of children who need foster caring continues to increase, as if the number continues to increase then something is wrong. He was asked who is to blame, with Falzon replying that government has facilitated the processes for foster carers.