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  Alberta offers benefits to adoptive parents to help foster kids find a permanent home
Family Helper editor

(Dec. 8, 2008)    Foster parents have long had financial and practical supports which were denied to adoptive parents. It now looks as if the province of Alberta will offer the same benefits to anyone adopting a child through the public system.

On Nov. 17, 2008 the Alberta government introduced amendments to the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act. The new benefits would apply only to children who were in the child-welfare system under permanent guardianship orders. Benefits would last until the child turns 18.

Parents who adopt permanent wards of the provincial government could get from $19 to $32 a day to put toward food and clothing, ten counselling sessions a year and, when they need a break, 24 days of respite care a year.

They would also get up to $280 a month in extra support for a child with emotional or behavioural issues. Those adopting children with Indian status would qualify for a travel allowance so the children could visit their home reserve and keep in touch with their native heritage.

Paula Simons wrote in the Edmonton Journal, Nov. 25, 2008, "The department's new philosophy is that all children who have been in government care have special needs -- not because all foster children have physical or psychological problems but because any child who's been made a permanent ward of the government, for whatever reason, will inevitably have gone through rough times."

She pointed out that the move wouldn't cost in the long run -- taxpayers still have to pay for room and board and counselling for kids in foster care -- and it would give kids in government care a permanent home rather than have them bounce from one foster home to another.

For more on the amendments, see Alberta Children and Youth Services, Nov. 17, 2008, Legislation introduced to strengthen services to children and families.

The Adoption Council of Canada (ACC) applauded Alberta's changes and hoped that other provinces and territories would follow suit and do the same for their children in foster care.

ACC President Sandra Scarth called the move groundbreaking in Canada. The proposed changes indicate a recognition that children's special needs do not miraculously disappear because of a change in status from foster care to adoption. The changes will provide the financial and human supports that adoptive parents have long said they and their children need as they work at forming a new and successful family.

Amounts and types of adoption subsidies vary by province. For a survey of subsidies across the country, see Canadian Adoption Assistance Profiles by the North American Council on Adoptable Children.

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Updated Dec. 8, 2008

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