Advent meeting of foster carers in Ostrava

20/12 2023

For several years now, children under age 3 experiencing crisis situations have not been placed in institutional care, but have instead been looked after by temporary foster carers. This year, foster carers in Ostrava have provided temporary care for 37 children, and a further 45 children have been placed with foster carers in other parts of the Moravian-Silesian Region. 

Advent meeting of foster carers in Ostrava

Ostrava’s Mayor Jan Dohnal and Deputy Mayor Zbyněk Pražák thanked foster carers for their dedicated efforts. Photograph: Adolf Horsinka

Despite all the challenges of fostering children, the Moravian-Silesian Region has more foster carers than most Czech regions.

Ostrava’s Deputy Mayor Zbyněk Pražák gave more details: “I have huge respect for the work our temporary foster carers do; they play an irreplaceable role in our child protection system. We support their efforts by organizing weekend residential events where carers can share their experiences and learn new skills, as well as providing support via a range of other events. Currently there are 33 temporary foster carers in Ostrava – 25 women and 8 men. I’m delighted that interest in this form of fostering is growing – last year we received ten new applications, followed this year by a further four.”

On 13 December 2023, temporary foster carers from Ostrava attended a meeting at the city hall where the Mayor and members of his team thanked them for their outstanding work. Among those who won awards were a couple who have been providing temporary foster care since 2024; at the time of the November meeting they had four groups of siblings in their care, and a 19-year-old who had also been in their care had recently been placed with a long-term foster family. Another award-winner was a foster carer who has provided temporary care to 16 children under the age of 3 since 2013. This was not the first advent meeting for Ostrava’s foster carers; last year the city organized a meeting in the fairytale surroundings of Raduň chateau.

Children under age 3 are the highest-risk (and also the largest) group of children in Ostrava who are placed in temporary foster care. This year, the city’s child protection authorities organized foster care for 21 children in this age group. Ten of them had been abandoned by their mother immediately after birth. A further nine children aged 3–6 were in temporary foster care, as well as seven older children, and foster carers accepted six sibling groups during this year. Mayor Jan Dohnal commented: “Thanks to our foster carers, children abandoned by their biological parents do not have to be placed in institutions, and they are able to grow up in a family environment, like their peers. Our thanks go to all those who provide this challenging service and are willing to devote their time, skills and energy to helping the most vulnerable children in our society, who are not able to receive care from their own parents.

For example, this year one foster carer in Ostrava looked after prematurely born twins whose mother – an active drug user who is homeless – left them in the maternity hospital. The mother asked for the children to be placed in temporary foster care, and she showed no further interest in their welfare. The foster carer did an excellent job, and a long-term foster family is currently being found for the twins, who will be able to grow up in a stable and loving environment. In another case, a preschool-age child was placed with temporary foster carers, as her mother repeatedly returned to a life on the streets (despite receiving the full range of support available to combat homelessness) and left her child in the care of strangers. The child adapted very quickly to life with the foster carer and is progressing well after a difficult start; long-term foster parents are currently being sought for the child, who will remain with them until reaching adult age.

Zdeněk Živčák, the head of the Social Affairs and Health Care Department at Ostrava’s City Authority, concluded: “Among the other events funded by the city are weekend residential stays for long-term foster carers and their children, as well as weekends for foster mothers and other activities forming part of the ‘Giving Children a Family’ campaign, which supports foster care. Anybody interested in becoming a foster carer can find information on the city’s website, or they can contact our Child Protection Authority directly.