Last summer, Simcoe-Muskoka Family Connexions (SMFC) stressed the need for specialized foster homes in local communities. Their goal was to match more children in need with placement families located close to their home communities.

The low number of approved foster homes across the entire county often meant the children would have to leave their communities. This includes their school districts, extended family and friends who could be a source of comfort and stability during their difficult time.

The SMFC urged the community to adopt a shared responsibility that allows children in crisis to have supportive and safe environments to go to locally when needed. Providing diverse and culturally appropriate care was also part of the push to adequately place children and groups of siblings.

In the spring, former youth in care and current SMFC board member Jane Kovarikova, published a report urging the province to track foster kids after they leave care. In it, she recommended an ongoing study of key sub-groups of youth in care.

She pointed out that different groups often contend with unique circumstances that lead to specific needs. Establishing a council of adults who aged out of care, would allow for the exchange of their invaluable and underutilised experience, according to the report.

Some of the challenges of youth aged out of care include low academic achievement, unemployment and underemployment, homelessness, and mental health.

For information, visit www.familyconnexions.ca or contact the foster hotline at 705-726-6587 x 2259.