A local charity is trying to recruit more families to provide foster care for children who need homes amid a shortage of foster parents, which is placing a heavy burden on families currently providing care.
“We are looking to recruit 999 foster families this year,” Betty Ho (何素秋), 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.
However, while the average number of children and youngsters needing foster care rose from 661 to 1,545 per month last year, 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 a third of the recruited foster families will stick with the program, but Ho said that would be enough to ease the burden foster families now face and ensure that each child is given enough care and attention.
The charity said couples who have been married for more than two years, aged between 25 and 60 with at least a junior-high school education, can receive training as foster caregivers.
Candidates must have a stable income and sufficient living space.
Social workers evaluate the families based on how willing and able they are to provide a loving home for the children, Ho said.
“It is a difficult task, as 60 percent of the children and youngsters that we help place have been abused,” Ho said, 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 (揚雅婷), who lived with a foster family from the age of 13, said in the beginning she did not believe anyone could possibly love someone else’s children like their own.
However, 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.”