Video used with the permission of the Canadian Foster Family Association
What is Foster Care?
Foster Care is a way of providing a temporary home for a child who is unable to live with his/her family and is in the care of a Children's Aid Society.
Who are Foster Children?
Each foster child is unique. There is no typical foster child. Children come into care because there is a conflict within the family, because of a parent's illness or incapacity to take care of their child/children. Some children may come into care because the family cannot provide adequate care or the necessities of life. Other children may have been neglected, abused or abandoned. Foster children range in age from infancy to 18 years and come from diverse cultural, religious and family backgrounds. Many foster children are teenagers; some are brothers and sisters. Some foster children face physical, emotional and mental challenges. Each foster child is going through a troubled period In his family life and needs the care offered by foster parents. Many require not only warmth and acceptance but consistency, structure and guidance.
Do We Have a Say About the Child we Foster?
Yes. It is up to you to decide what types of children you would be willing to care for. For example, age, gender, special needs, sibling groups, etc. Placement decisions are based on the strengths of your family, and the needs of the child.
Foster Parents are given a tax free daily per diem that varies according to the needs of the child and the skills and expectations placed on the foster parent. Daily per diems range from $29.30 (regular foster care) to $100 (treatment foster care), as well as incentives for length of service and specialized training. The Agency also covers all costs associated with caring for a foster child, such as clothing, recreational, cultural, infant needs, medical and dental expenses. Children also receive a spending allowance.
Parenting Resources for Information, Development and Education (PRIDE) training is a comprehensive 27 hour educational program that, since 2007, has been considered to be essential and mandatory training for those families who are interested in becoming foster or adoptive parents in Ontario. It is important for foster and adoptive parents to be prepared to understand and meet the needs of children in the foster care system, and be aware of the challenges they may experience. Examples of issues which will be discussed are grief and loss, effects of trauma on child development, effects of neglect, lack of stimulation, abuse, identity formation, cultural issues, and the importance of maintaining connections and continuity for children.
Staff from the Child Welfare Agency, other parents, and professionals from the community offer support and assistance. The Society provides mandatory training and encourages foster parents to attend specialized training which may have financial compensation based on hours of training.
Different Types of Fostering?
Regular Fostering: This makes up the majority of our foster families who commit to children of a variety of ages and needs for as long as they are in care. Again, the needs of the children will vary along with the expectations on the foster parents, as well as the per diem.
Respite Fostering: Respite homes give relief to other foster parents for weekends or on a short term basis.
Receiving Homes: These families provide contracted 24 hour emergency placements for children ages 6-16 years of age. These placements are usually for up to 30 days.
Parent-Operated Receiving: Foster parents reside in a house provided by the Agency with the same expectations as contract receiving.
Treatment Foster: These homes are designated for children with special treatment needs. It is required that there is at least one stay-at-home parent or one parent available to the child at all times. The foster parents are supported by mandatory paid respite and vacation because of the high needs of the children. These foster parents are required to attend specialized training and are supported by, and are expected to participate as part of, a treatment team.
Who Can Foster?
Foster parents come from all walks of life and a diversity of cultures, religions and lifestyles. They may be experienced parents whose family has grown; young couples who become foster parents while raising their own children; older couples, single persons; parents with training in child care or related professions; people with no special background in child care. All have a genuine interest in children and a sense of community responsibility. They enjoy the challenge presented by foster care.
Why Would Anyone Foster?
Caring for children is every society's most important job. Research has shown that the most important agent of growth is a child's ability to develop a strong relationship with positive adult role models. These are children who need to be welcomed into a home where they will be valued and safe. There is a basic joy in sharing some of the richness that life has given you with a child or youth.