Kerri Kemp, manager of child placement and support services with the Department of Health and Social Services, says the goal of a new foster care pilot project is to more quickly reunite foster children with their biological parents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Yukon government plans new foster parent program

Program could see foster children living under the same roof as their biological and foster parents

The Yukon government is launching a new foster care pilot project that will not only pair children in need with foster parents, but also give their biological parents a chance to live under the same roof.

Under the new family reunification project, foster children, their biological parents and foster parents could all end up living together in a government-owned three-bedroom home in Whitehorse.

The goal is to more quickly reunite foster children with their biological parents, said Kerri Kemp, manager of child placement and support services with the Department of Health and Social Services.

“This type of service is going to give us the ability to work more intensely with the birth parents and kids who are placed in the home.”

Similar programs exist across the country, Kemp said. In those, “kids are being reunited with their families faster, because the parents have a more intense involvement,” she said.

“It means that we’re shortening the time that we have kids in care.”

The government’s announcement did not include many specifics. Many of the details of the Yukon program will depend on the families who participate, Kemp said.

It may be a gradual process where the biological parents work their way up to living in the house full time.

There will be no government support staff living in the house, but support workers will visit and help when needed, she said.

Neither the Yukon foster family nor the family in need of support has been chosen.

It hasn’t been finalized yet whether the foster family will get paid more than in a standard situation or if they would be required to pay rent.

As for whether the foster parents involved will get any specialized training beyond what is given to a standard foster parent, that will depend on the needs of the child and their biological parents, the health department said.

Kemp said foster parents will not be responsible for monitoring the success of the other adults in the house. That will be the job of a case manager or social worker, she said.

Details about what kind of services government officials will be offering — such as counselling — will also depend on what the family needs, Kemp said.

The health department says the pilot program will be up and running by January.

It’s scheduled to run for three years. Based on other programs around the country, families are expected to live in the house for about eight months, Kemp said.

In Manitoba, the Living in Family Enhancement (LIFE) program has been running since 2008. In that time about 30 families have been placed with trained foster parents who act as both parents to the children and mentors to the biological parents.

“It has allowed children the opportunity to be nurtured and cared for alongside of their parent so that they don’t experience that trauma of separation.” said Billie Schibler, chief executive officer with the Metis Child and Family Services Authority.

Schibler said the Manitoba program does not work with families who are considered high risk, like those with a history of violence.

Instead the LIFE program is geared towards families that are considered low risk, she said.

“It may be that there’s chronically an issue where if they just had some really good support and mentoring they would learn and understand a little bit more about the about the needs of their children. They would learn and understand their role as parents a little bit better,” she said.

“Sometimes it’s about parenting the parent. Sometimes it’s about (the fact that) they didn’t have those needs met well themselves as they were coming up into adulthood.”

About half the families who participate complete the program, she said. Of those, about 70 per cent are reunited with their children full time.

“When we can see those kind of outcomes then that tells us that this is a no-brainer, this is the way that it should be. Kids should not have the trauma of separation if we can prevent it.”

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

Foster careWhitehorseYukon health and social services

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

During our recent conversation, John Nicholson showed me snapshots of his time working on the Yukon riverboats 70 years ago. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: Yukon man relives the riverboat days after seven decades

John Nicholson took summer work on Yukon steamers in the 1950s

A city map shows the property at 107 Range Road. The zoning is now in place for developers to proceed with plans for a Dairy Queen drive-thru. If plans proceed on schedule the new restaurant is anticipated to open in October. (Cyrstal Schick/Yukon News)
October opening eyed for Dairy Queen

Will depend on everything going according to plan

NDP candidate Annie Blake, left, and Liberal incumbent Pauline Frost. (Submitted photos)
Official recount confirms tie vote in Vuntut Gwitchin riding

Both candidates Pauline Frost and Annie Blake are still standing with 78 votes each

Artist’s rendering of a Dairy Queen drive-thru. At its April 13 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved a zoning change to allow a drive-thru at 107 Range Road. Developers sought the change to build a Dairy Queen there. (Submitted)
Drive-thru approved by Whitehorse city council at 107 Range Road

Rezoning could pave the way for a Dairy Queen

xx
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for April 14, 2021.… Continue reading

Joel Krahn/joelkran.com Hikers traverse the Chilkoot Trail in September 2015. Alaska side.
The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer

The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer Parks… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at city council matters for the week of April 12

École Whitehorse Elementary Grade 7 students Yumi Traynor and Oscar Wolosewich participated in the Civix Student Vote in Whitehorse on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Yukon Student Vote chooses Yukon Party government; NDP take popular vote

The initiative is organized by national non-profit CIVIX

Yvonne Clarke is the newly elected Yukon Party MLA for Porter Creek Centre. (Submitted/Yukon Party)
Yvonne Clarke elected as first Filipina MLA in the Yukon Legislative Assembly

Clarke beat incumbent Liberal Paolo Gallina in Porter Creek Centre

Emily Tredger at NDP election night headquarters after winning the Whitehorse Centre riding. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Emily Tredger takes Whitehorse Centre for NDP

MLA-elect ready to get to work in new role

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Two new cases of COVID-19 variant identified in territory

“If variants were to get out of control in the Yukon, the impact could be serious.”

lwtters
Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

Most Read