A new initiative called “Just Like You” was recently launched to encourage Albertans to become foster parents and Cochrane and area is a focal point. 

Considering a recent decrease in the number of foster parents, the Alberta government is raising awareness of the need with the hope of creating 100 additional foster placements over the next year.  

Monique McCardle, president of the Calgary and District Foster Parents Association says there is a demand for more foster homes in the city but the need is especially apparent in the surrounding areas outside of Calgary. “We want children, who are in need of care, to be able to stay in their communities. Encouraging communities surrounding Calgary and even more rural communities to have people to become foster parents allows children to stay in their communities and their schools and allows them to continue in that family culture.” Cochrane is one of the outlying areas that McCardle is referring to saying, “We have a few (foster families) in Cochrane but we definitely would like to grow that in Cochrane also surrounding areas like Bragg Creek.” 

Like so many organizations, the foster parent program in Alberta was affected by the pandemic. McCardle feels it was a cause of the decrease in foster parents, “I definitely think the pandemic had a lot to do with it as everybody is aware, all of our lives changed drastically during that time, and certainly there wasn't a lot of advertising or recruiting done during that time, and certainly some people who had been fostering for quite a while had taken that opportunity to retire as well.” 

What attributes are they looking for in a foster caregiver or family? McCardle says they welcome people from all walks of life, as variety is what makes up the world and “different kids have different needs.” They are looking for adults 18 and up, including seniors. Whether single, a couple, an already established family, or a brand-new family, each type would be a valued addition to a roster of families that are needed in Alberta.  

McCardle, a foster parent herself and recognized as 2019 Foster Parent of the Year says, “Foster parents are everyday people – just like you. If you have ever considered becoming a foster parent, now is the time. Children all over Alberta are in need of a safe place to temporarily call home. Becoming a foster parent provides the unique opportunity to support families in need. Not only can you impact a child’s life but an entire family’s life.” 

There are several ways to find out more about becoming a foster parent: The provincial website information can be found here. Locally, fostercalgary.com. or the Calgary and District Foster Parent Association. 

If you are interested in making a difference in the life of a child by becoming a foster parent you can learn more by calling 1-844-957-0552 or emailing fostercaregiving@gov.ab.ca.