Straight up - MLA Kevin Lamoureux

Filipino families open their homes to raise foster children

Over the years I have seen a dramatic increase in the number of families of Filipino heritage who are taking on one of Manitoba’s greatest social needs and I am not talking about healthcare.

If you visit any of our healthcare facilities in Manitoba, you will see how the Filipino community clearly plays the role of providing care for those who have a need for healthcare services. Compare that to foster care parents where the community has been playing a larger role every year in opening their homes to children in need.

Allow me to provide some background. Manitoba has approximately 9,000 children requiring foster care in some form, and a large percentage of those children have serious medical, emotional and other problems. These problems often cause them to react by running away, stealing, lying, and lead them to physical and verbal aggression. They can be a real challenge to their foster home.
All children are entitled to be in a stable and loving environment but sadly, that is not the case for thousands of children and that is the reason we need foster parents. It is a serious problem and the government is not doing enough on the issue.

I recall raising concerns inside the Manitoba Legislature prior to becoming a Member of Parliament on this same issue. I talked about how Manitoba’s childcare advocate stated that we were in a crisis situation. As the number of children in foster care continues to be a problem here in Manitoba (more so than most other provinces), it is time that the Government takes more tangible actions to improve the lives of our children.

Having highlighted the issue, I would like to share two striking examples of foster care and the positive profound impact it can have on a child.

Over 10 years ago when I was at a Filipino seniors fiesta event on Euclid Avenue when I saw Mr. Teodoro who was with a foster child. I was getting ready to leave when this eight year- old child looked up to Mr. Teodoro and stated “I want to be a Filipino.” Mr. Teodoro smiled and gave him a hug. It was an expression of love and something I suspect was not a common occurrence for this particular child.

Years later, I was at a house on Aberdeen Avenue with Henry Celones when I met a wonderful couple and they shared some bad news that they just received. They had been providing foster care to a little girl since birth and now was turning six years old. The social worker had informed them that the child’s biological mother who had drug and crime issues now wanted her child back.

While listening to the foster dad explain to me the situation, their foster daughter ran into the living room and sat on her foster mom’s lap. In observing the relationship between the two of them, one would never suspect that she wasn’t her own biological child. To me it raised a very important issue and to this day, I am not sure if the system is working as effectively as it should be in the child’s favor.

I have come to know many families who now are providing foster care to children of all ages and many different issues surface. I am thinking it might be time that we form a stronger advocacy group -- a group that is committed to putting our children first, instead of financial concerns, or the protection of foster parents and biological parents. If you are interested in forming such a group, let me know by emailing me at kevin@mpkevin.ca.

 
Volume 11 No 18 - September 16-30, 2013
Ang Peryodiko - The Newspaper For Overseas Filipino
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