Online foster parent training for Saskatchewan families first in Canada

Saskatchewan Social Services Minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor (left) says online training is a real game-changer for prospective foster parents. File / Global News

The provincial government says foster home numbers in Saskatchewan have steadily decreased and they are making training more convenient to help make recruitment easier.

Saskatchewan officials said Wednesday that the launch of its online training for prospective foster parents is a first in Canada.

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A partnership between the government and the Saskatchewan Foster Families Association (SFFA) has made 30 hours of required courses available with video conferencing equipment donated by SaskTel Pioneers.

“With providing the training in-person, we required prospective families to drop everything on multiple weekends, step away from their own families and responsibilities and travel to another community to attend classes,” SFFA executive director Deb Davies said.

“This was a barrier in recruiting new families. Now, the program will be accessible to more people and they will be able to complete the required training much more quickly.”

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In the last four years, the number of Saskatchewan foster homes has decreased by 35 per cent, according to officials.

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Interested foster parents can access the first half of their training using their home computer or mobile devices, at their convenience. Scheduled review and discussion sessions can also be done over the internet through video conferencing and virtual classrooms.

“This is a real game-changer for prospective foster parents,” Social Services Minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor said.

“They have a lot of love to give and so much to offer, but what they lack is time. This will allow us to meet them halfway and still provide all of the training and support a person needs to take on the role of foster parent in a way that works for them.”

Officials said the second half of the training program will be online by spring 2017.

For more information on what is required to become a foster parent, contact SFFA at 1-800-667-7002.

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