VM Group President's Awardee, VM Foundation launch Foster A Child fund-raising project
Director of the For the Child Foster Care Programme Karen Fraser-Williams (second left) is thankful for the donation of $50,000 from the VM Foundation, which marks the start of the VM Group President's Awardee and the VM Foundation Foster a Child fund-raising project. Sharing in the moment are (from left) Dr Barry Davidson, CEO, Family Life Ministries; Samantha Charles, CEO, VM Foundation; Tiffany-Joy Smith, 2021 President's Awardee; and Courtney Campbell, president and CEO of the VM Group.

THE VM Group 2021 President's Awardee Tiffany-Joy Smith has collaborated with the VM Foundation to launch a Foster A Child fund-raising project, in partnership with the For the Child (FTC) Foster Care Programme, aimed at boosting the national foster care programme. The project seeks to raise approximately $300,000 annually to offset costs associated with providing foster care for one child.

"Jamaica has over 4,000 children in State care [approximately 2,000 in children's homes] and the Government is seeking to remove 75 per cent of children from State care by 2028. This project will significantly assist us in achieving this goal," noted Karen Fraser-Williams, director, FTC Foster Care Programme, at the launch held at VM Group's corporate offices recently.

The FTC Foster Care programme partners with Family Life Ministries, the Child Protection and Family Services Agency and Nairn Family Homes that is based in Ontario, Canada, to execute the programme. It includes not only identifying suitable families for children in State care, but also includes providing psychosocial support to each child.

Also speaking at the launch of the project, co-founder and chief executive Officer of Family Life Ministries Dr Barry Davidson expressed the perspective that drives the FTC Committee, to pursue the development of private foster care for the children of Jamaica.

Tiffany-Joy Smith (centre), VM Group 2021 President's Awardee, signs the memorandum of understanding marking the start of the Foster a Child project. Witnessing the moment are (seated left) Karen Fraser-Williams, director of the For the Child Foster Care Programme; and Samantha Charles, CEO, VM Foundation. Standing are Dr Barry Davidson (left), CEO, Family Life Ministries, and Courtney Campbell, president and CEO of the VM Group.

"This is the first programme of its kind in Jamaica. It is based on the importance of the development of attachment between the parent and the child. Foster care is a temporary arrangement of custody or guardianship for children whose parents are unable to provide them with the necessary care that they need for their growth and development. The primary purpose of foster care is to provide a safe, stable environment for children who cannot be with their parents for some reason or the other. Foster parents, therefore, provide an environment that feels like home that is important because evidence shows that family-based care is the most effective way of providing vulnerable children with a warm, safe, attentive, and nurturing experience," said Dr Davidson.

The FTC programme is acutely aware that children who are institutionalised by virtue of the circumstances that they find themselves in, don't have the typical family environment in which children were meant to grow. Therefore, as a result, many of these children don't achieve as well as they should. The aim then is for the FTC programme to provide these vulnerable, at-risk groups with placement in carefully screened foster care families, thereby promoting healing and improved life outcomes.

Dr Davidson re-emphasised that the aim of the FTC Foster Care programme is to provide quality care for children in difficult circumstances and in need of family and counselling support.

In explaining the genesis of the project, Smith, innovation and research analyst with VM Innovations, noted that she sought to establish a charity initiative to which the president's awardee programme could provide support and found the FTC's Foster Care programme as being most deserving as it aligns with the VM Foundation's focus on youth development.

"This Foster a Child project provides the perfect opportunity for the VM Group to make a significant difference in the lives of our nation's children while also making a positive contribution to national development," she said.

The VM Foundation started the fund-raising effort with a seed funding of $50,000. Speaking at the launch, VM Foundation CEO Samantha Charles noted the importance of the project enabling the foundation to fulfil its purpose.

"We are looking forward to rallying the support of our VM team members, the VM Group members and clients and all Jamaicans at home and abroad, toward this very noble effort. When we safeguard the future of our children, we are ultimately safeguarding the future of our nation. Our children deserve to experience a good quality of life and the VM Foundation is committed to youth and community development," she said.

Donations towards the Foster a Child project can be made at https://spurropen.com/vmfoundation, by selecting 'Foster a Child'.

The VM Group President's Awardee programme is an annual recognition programme which identifies and rewards a VM Group team member who has displayed outstanding performance and embodies the organisation's cultural beliefs. The Foster a Child project will become the official charity project of the President's Awardee programme.

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