More than 80 delegates from the Netherlands Antilles, Aruba and the Region, will converge in Philipsburg, when Sint Maarten hosts the first Regional Foster Care Conference.

Professionals, policy workers, researchers, social workers, foster parents, foster carers and stakeholders involved in the foster care, child residential care, child protection and child social welfare work field, will join each other to address the issue of out-of-home care which intends to protect children who cannot safely remain with their biological family.

The conference, themed "A Family for Every Child", will take place from April 22 – 24, 2009 at the Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort.

The event will be a wonderful opportunity for local and regional participants to meet, learn, exchange views, and evaluate foster care practices, as well as promote networking to support professionals, social workers and foster parents and children in foster care.


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The Foundation Judiciary Institute has invited several keynote presenters to share their knowledge, insights and experience on the topic of foster care, which includes Mrs. Bep van Sloten-van de Munt, coordinator of the ‘Better Care Network (B.N.C.) Netherlands ’, Mrs. Maria Matilde Luna, project leader of the Red Latino Americano de Acogimiento Familiar / Latin American Foster Care Network (R.E.L.A.F.), Mrs. Myrna McNitt, secretary of the training committee and life member of the International Foster Care Organization (I.F.C.O.) and Mrs. Caroline Baker, United Nations Children’s Fund (U.N.I.C.E.F.) sub-regional Child Protection Advisor for the Caribbean. Representatives of the participating islands are also requested to give insight into the status of foster care and work practices on their respective islands / countries.

The Conference starts with a Welcome Cocktail for participants and invited guests, and ends on a high note with a Foster Carers Appreciation Dinner, to recognize the contribution made by local foster carers to the lives of vulnerable children. It will be the first Regional Foster Care Conference, an initiative of the Foundation Judiciary Institutes Windward Islands.

The 2009 Regional Foster Care Conference is part of the Foundation Judiciary Institutes Windward Islands project ‘Foster Families Central’, which aims towards increasing the available number of foster parents on St. Maarten’. The project falls within the frame work of the Safety Plan Netherlands Antilles and is being financed by the ‘Uitvoerende Stichting Netherlands Antilles (U.S.O.N.A.), with Dutch Development Funds.