The role of the Association of Foster Families is to support foster families and other care providers in their decision to give their children a happy family life.
We provide the children and the foster parents with a continuing support, expert consultancy, education, accompanying and expert assistance. We contribute to the
positive development of the disadvantaged children and young people and help them to enjoy a good quality of life in our society.
Our aims :
- To enable the children growing up in foster care to experience their childhood in a natural setting provided by a loving family.
- To support and to ensure through the accompaniment a safe care for the children and a suitable environment for their general development.
- To ensure a safe contact of the children in foster care with their parents and other closely related people and to promote their healthy identity.
- To initiate changes in the system of care of the children at risk. To aim at the status, when each and every child could live in a natural environment – that means a family environment.
- To participate in the public discussion on ensuring care for the children at risk and to closely cooperate with all the parts of the system.
- To promote substitute family care (foster care and adoption) and to spread this idea among other people taking part in educational activities.
The target group
The target group includes :
- foster parents and children living in their families
- the people providing services for the officially registered applicants waiting for a child (the Association provides social and legal protection services in several regions – the South – Moravian, Pilsner, Olomouc, Zlín, Central – Bohemian, Pardubice, Moravia – Silesian, Ustí, South-Bohemian, Vysočina and the Capital Prague Region)
The wider target group includes :
- every child who turns to a person in charge for help
- people interested in substitute family care (foster care, adoption) and formal applicants (carers/adoptive parents to be)
- families that cannot sign the Agreement on providing foster care (adoptive families, foster families with a child who has already come of age) – activities within the framework of the project of the City Council of Brno, the Department of Health
Our activities :
- making agreements on providing foster care
- providing expert accompaniment through the contacts with a key worker and arranging for expert intervention (psychological, therapeutic, in the area of special needs pedagogy and other)
- assisting with the provision of a round-the-clock care for the cared for children (through summer camps, programmes for children accompanying educational activities for adults, etc.)
- assistance with the provision of a short term care in the situation of crisis
- offering different forms of education for the care providers and supporting them in fulfilling their responsibility to educate themselves (educational workshops, supervision and club meetings, educational and therapeutic weekends, self-study)
- support in regular sharing of experience with caring for a cared for child with other care providers in terms of educational activities (club meetings, supervisions, multi-day workshops) or within the framework of meetings for foster families aimed at leisure activities, such as :
- activities for youngsters (15 – 18 of age)
- children camps
- educative and publication activities
- publishing the magazine The Guide through the Substitute Family Care
- lending expert books to the care providers
- providing leisure activities for foster families
History of the Association of Foster Families
The Association of Foster Families was founded in 1995 by foster parents, the couple Hana and Miroslav Opatřil in particular. The main focus was to identify the substitute families willing to care for the abandoned and disadvantaged children and to provide foster families with some expert assistance.
We started with three volunteers. Today there are 30 employees.
The Association started its activities in a rented one-room apartment within a block of flats in Brno – Julianova. The activities were carried out by the three aforementioned volunteers. Later on the Association employed two permanent employees, it was only a part time job. From 2015 there are over 20 people working for the Association. The Association is currently providing their services not only in Brno, but also in Pilsen, Bystrice pod Hostýnem, Znojmo and Prague.
We took an active part in the transformation of the system of care for the children at risk in the Czech Republic.
Since the foundation of the Association we participate in the activities of expert groups on local as well as governmental level that aim to prepare incentives and suggestions to further develop and enhance assistance for the children at risk in the Czech Republic. Since 2003 we have intensively supported open discussion on the need to transform the system of care for the children at risk.
We permanently provide a space to give opinions on this matter to all interested subjects and experts in the periodic Guide through Substitute Family Care issued by the Association. We also initiated series of expert meetings, among others the conference „A Child in the System of the Substitute Family Care“ (Brno, 2009) and The Dilemmas of Foster Care in Case of Children with Serious Problems (Brno, 2016).
We introduce new needed services for foster parents.
The main aim and purpose of the activities of the Association is a direct assistance and support of the families with the cared for children. During our functioning in the field of substitute family care we have looked for and developed expert services assisting a good functioning of substitute families. As one of the first we have started to provide respite care since 2008 and assisted contacts since the end of 2010.
We make examples of the good practice of life of substitute families visible to wider public.
From the very beginning we strove to promote and publicise substitute family care, the foster care in particular. We draw attention of the public to examples of good practice of the life of foster families. We among other things supported publishing of the book written by Dagmar Zezulová Home is the place you donť get kicked out of. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Association we have issued a remarkable book „Lifes“. Twenty families entrusted us with their fates described in twenty engaging life stories.
We organise campaigns and publish a magazine.
Since its foundation the Association has succeeded in finding new loving families for hundreds of children. We organise campaigns to promote foster care, provide basic anonymised information on the children available for the substitute family care and thus mediate potential contacts with interested registered applicants via the column „We are looking for you, Mum and Dad“. We publish The Guide Through the Substitute Family Care magazine, which is distributed throughout the Czech Republic.
We were assigned to carry out social- legal child protection.
From 2013 we are an organisation assigned to carry out social-legal child protection and we sign Agreements on provision of foster care. The foster parents are legally entitled to the accompaniment services and respite care.
We also support other substitute families than those that fall within the Agreements.
We appreciate the age-long selfless work of the foster parents and we assist them even after the effect of their Agreement ends. We realise that the foster parents need our support and accompaniment after their child comes of age, until he/she is fully independent and we are open to such cooperation. We also support adoptive families that are not legally entitled to the accompaniment.