October 7, 2013

I am responding to the article "Native women murdered, missing, children forgotten," by Andrea Ledding (WCR, Sept. 16).

I cannot address the issue of missing women or government policies, however, I wish to clarify that of aboriginal women receiving $500 a month while foster parents receive $1,500.

Social workers are not making random, unfounded cases to apprehend children. First, the family relatives are approached for suitable placement. Then aboriginal homes are sought and finally, if there are none available, then the children are placed in non-aboriginal homes.

Also, there are always shortages of foster homes generally and aboriginal ones specifically. There is no underhanded plot to focus on aboriginals discriminately.

The reasons any children come into care are directly related to emotional, physical, sexual, abuse and neglect. Lack of finances may contribute to these conditions, but violence, alcohol and substance abuse, young pregnancies, a lack of parenting skills or mental problems also are closely related to abuse and neglect.

The term "often" is used by Ms. Radek to describe the frequency of abuse in foster homes. However, there is no number connected to this allegation, so we the readers, are kept in the dark as to what "often" actually means.

Moreover, the fact that foster parents make $1,500 per month may sound extravagant.

But, for this "wage," foster parents must accept children 24/7 with emotional, behavioural and/or physical disabilities and difficulties as part of their own family, take them to necessary appointments, possibly be involved in therapy sessions, schools, etc., help them to maintain their culture, cope with separation anxiety from having been removed from their homes and allow the children to visit their families as often as possible.

I do not see any stampede of people willing to take on such responsibilities. To me, the $1,500 price tag is simply a way of deceiving the public about the heavy challenges of being a foster parent.

Joe Cristini
Edmonton