Amy is a seven-year-old who has just been taken away from her parents. Her parents both had a severe drug addiction problem and were not receptive to help. After a thorough investigation, it was determined that Amy’s basic rights were not being met, as she very often went to school looking seriously neglected, hungry and clearly exposed to drug taking.

Frankie is Amy’s new foster carer. At first, Amy was very shy as she had to adapt to sleeping in a new bed, wearing clothes that smell differently, and living in a new environment. She soon learned that Frankie will always cook for her, he always prepares healthy lunches, and his mother helps her with her homework until Frankie comes home from work, and they enjoy going on outings together.

She visited places she had only heard her classmates talk about. She still misses her parents and worries continuously about them. Amy hopes they go to a hospital to get better because it is obvious they are not physically well. Frankie prepares her every week, and Julie, an SAV supervisor accompanies her every week to see her parents. They don’t always turn up and when they don’t Frankie is very much present to support her. Sometimes she might act up due to her worries, but Frankie was trained in therapeutic parenting so he really knows how to handle her. She is so happy at her new home.

It is our duty to be sensitive to children’s difficulties and to provide them with a safe, nurturing environment to grow in. You could be the person that we are looking for, to nurture a child whilst her parents, with the help of various services, show consistency in working on their care plan. Your guidance and affection will serve to be a guiding star to this child until her family gets ready to welcome her back. And if this is not possible after a while, that child could remain in permanent foster care, providing her with stability in her life. Like Amy they need someone who is honest with them, who shows them love and who can help them restore faith in their community.

During the last three years, Directorate for Alternative Care saw an increase of seven per cent in children residing in foster care. Malta, in line with its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, ensures that children who require alternative care and who could be matched with a family, are given this opportunity. Removal of children from their homes should only occur as a last resort and should occur to promote the child’s well-being, aiming to find a stable and safe response, including, where possible, reuniting the child with his or her family.

Olivia, a foster carer, recounts how an eight-month-old baby used to cry whenever her husband used to return back from home. It took them a while to realize that the baby was being unknowingly triggered by the husband’s beard as she had just left an abusive environment where the abuser was a male figure. Even at that young age, traumatic episodes still leave a mark on children and the importance of therapeutic parenting training provided to foster carers is very important for the well-being of the children.

A foster carer could be anyone, whether single, in a civil union or married. A seven-week training course is offered, followed by a home study report before the applicant is recommended to become a foster carer. All those interested are encouraged to contact Directorate for Alternative Care on 1778 or via Fostering Malta Facebook page.

Your journey starts here. Give hope, choose fostering.

Remenda Grech, Director Alternative Care, FSWS.

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