February 17, 2017 12:08 am

Longtime foster parent says B.C. only pays pennies to care providers

WATCH: A long-time foster parent says she’s reached her breaking point, dealing with the growing challenges of caring for B.C.’s most vulnerable children.

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Marie has been a foster mom for almost two decades, housing 118 children in total, but she says she only makes pennies per hour for the work.

“I always had a kid in my house, so after I retired, I thought maybe I’ll foster children and I’ve been doing it ever since,” she told Global News.

But Marie says there has been no change in the rates offered to foster parents in years, while the cost of just about everything has gone up.

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“I have a girl and she’s 13 now and I got her when she was 18 months. That money is still the same amount I get for her now. I make anywhere from 14 to 16 cents an hour. That’s my wages.”

Marie says no foster parent is in the program for the money, but with the attention now being paid to the foster care system after the death of Alex Gervais, she thinks it’s time the province stops ignoring foster parents.

The basic monthly rate for foster parents in B.C. is $803.81 per child 11 and under and $909.95 per child 12 and over. It’s more for children with physical, mental, behavioural or emotional needs.

“Just look after the children, give [us] money to look after the kids to be able to feed them and take them to the store and buy them new clothes once in a while,” she said.

But the minister for Children and Family Development says even small changes aren’t easy to make.

“Foster parents are aging and some are retiring from fostering and we want to be able to attract new good people in. We’re constantly reviewing what we do,” Minister Stephanie Cadieux said.

More money for the ministry is promised in the upcoming budget, something Marie will be watching for.

“I want to see what Ms. Christy Clark has to say about foster children – foster families,” Marie said. “We’re people too.”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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