SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On October 6th, 2022, graduates were told that they will not be sent on this journey alone. “You will have the support of Foster Families Central who provides guidance and advocates on your behalf. A dedicated team of social workers from The Family Guardian Department, will be in close contact with you as it carries out its responsibility for the overall wellbeing of the child”, said SJIS’ Interim Director Cynthia Filemon during the certificate ceremony.
Psychologist Aisheline Maduro, STAP (Selectie Training Aspirant Pleegouders/Selection Training Candidate Foster-parents) Training Instructor, said that these trainings are important to ensure that prospective foster parents and mentors understand the commitment they are making. Every foster child needs someone who is going to be there for him or her. Someone to open doors to a future they thought impossible. Foster parents and mentors, giving from the heart in such a capacity as this affords the opportunity to help shape lives. Co-trainer Ivan Plantein acknowledged the commitment displayed and emphasized the children’s need for good leadership and guidance in their lives.
Also present at the ceremony were Kimberly Dort Brown, Department Head, Court of Guardianship St. Maarten, who spoke of the importance of foster parents and mentors, and Priya Misir, Foster Care Program Manager, Ki Britannia Foundation who said, "I am who I am today due to the positive influence of a mentor. Knowing that 11 youth in foster care will experience that same positive transformation through mentorship brings me great joy.”
Foster Care Coordinator Meredith Concincion said that of the 45 persons that registered 11 mentors and 10 foster parents completed the four-day training. The training included topics such as healthy versus an unhealthy family system; social influences on development when children hurt and live in foster care.
In extending congratulatory remarks, the Department of Youth, under the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth & Sport extends sincerest congratulations to the management and staff of the SJIS for executing another STAP Training to the volunteers, who have committed and dedicated their time to become successfully trained and much needed mentors or foster parents to our children in the foster care system.
The Department noted that through close collaboration between the Department of Youth and the SJIS “Be the Village, Foster A Child” 2022 Awareness Campaign, the Department of Youth deemed it necessary to support this endeavor, as it addresses a key focal area in Children’s Rights while enhancing and promoting child protection on the island according to Department’s mandate. “In this light, we encourage all past and new mentors or foster parents, to remain steadfast on this journey as together we aim to free our children from abuse, violence and neglect”.
According to Concincion, this is the first and will be the last training for 2022. More trainings will continue when SJIS is able to secure the necessary funding.