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Foster Parents To Become Professionals

Richmond Fellowship to Launch Ground-Breaking Youth Programme

Richmond Fellowship, the national provider of community based health services, is recruiting parents for an innovative foster care programme which will train, pay and recognise foster parents as skilled professionals.

The Fellowship is negotiating with five couples to become professional foster parents for young people with behavioural disorders. Under the new programme the Fellowship will provide training, support and 24-hour back-up. The arrangements will be piloted in Christchurch before being introduced in other main centres.

Specialist Youth Service manager Chris Kalin says the Specialist Family Support programme will be an integral part of the overall youth service, offering a new alternative for clients who need more intensive support but who may be less suited to a group home situation. The scheme is expected to have major advantages for clients, parents and the funding agencies.

“It means parents are properly recognised for their skills and paid in a way that enables them to make a commitment to full time parenting, without losing an income,” she says.

“Although there is no local data, overseas experience suggests there are major gains in both the management of a client’s condition and the potential for the client to gain further independence.”

“We have clients within our service who would be ideal for this type of care. Training, support and back-up services are already in place, so the service will be ready to go as soon as we finalise arrangements with the parents.” Terms of payment for parents are still under negotiation.

The new service is being launched in Foster Care Week, and follows a call by Christchurch’s Deputy Mayor, Lesley Keast, to explore ways to get more Government help for foster parents.

Richmond Fellowship chief executive, Dr Gerry Walmisley, says its encouraging that a local authority has recognised the value of treating foster parents as professionals. “We’ve been investigating the professional foster care model for some time and believe it provides many benefits for the clients, the parents and the funding agency. We fully support the Child Youth and Family Service in their commitment to professionalising this specialist role.”

Richmond Fellowship is a major provider of community health services throughout New Zealand. The Fellowship has developed specialist services for a range of purchasers including the Ministry of Health, Crown Public Health, and District Health Services.
Ends
Further information:
Dr Gerry Walmisley Chris Kalin
Chief Executive Specialist Youth Services
Mobile 025 322 007 Phone 025 271 2762

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