Record year for foster families in Latvia

2017 has been a turning point for those who want to become foster parents, reports LSM's Latvian service. 

For the first time in six years, nearly a hundred families have gone through courses, passed examinations required by law and become eligible families for adoption. Those organizing the training believe that the media have also played a role, notably by reporting on life inside state-run children's homes and prompting ordinary people to come forward to give a brighter future to children in institutions.

Antra Akermane and her husband are among those receiving permission to foster children. Document must be submitted to the Orphan's Court within a month and the wish to become a foster parent must be expressed. Fostering training courses for herself and her husband are paid by the state, costing €175 each.

The education courses last two and a half months, and include both written and oral tests on how to act in different situations different situations, based on the real experiences of other foster parents.

Nor is everyone guaranteed to pass. As a result of the increased number of applicants, only those with the highest scores are accepted into the fostering program.

Explaining her motivation to start fostering, Antra says it is an opportunity to help someone grow up in a family and live a meaningful life. Her daughter Katrina will have a room-mate but says she is also ready to help: "I will help you with lessons."

The Akermane family wants to welcome a child who is younger than the nine-year-old Katrina.

Arija Martukāne, one of the officials administering the fostering program says this year has seen more courses run and more certificates issued to foster care parents than ever before.

"There were years when I managed to conduct only three courses. This year we had six. The goal was to train 70 parents of parents, but we trained 75."

Now it is hoped that the Ministry of Welfare will in future be able to allocate additional funds.

And in the last few days, another 20 families or individuals passed the exam and won official status, bringing the total up to 95 foster parents trained for the first time ever in a single year.

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