Adoptive parents make fantastic foster parents! There's an urgent province-wide need for foster parents right now. On Vancouver Island alone, over a thousand children with widely varied needs are in government care. In this article, a foster family recruitment worker from Nanaimo explains the basics of foster caregiving and asks you—yes, you!—to consider making a difference for a child in need by becoming a foster home.
Help kids in your community
We know from experience that many people want to help struggling kids in their communities but aren’t sure exactly where to start. Maybe you’re one of those people. If so, have you ever considered fostering?
Being a foster caregiver can be demanding but it can also be incredibly rewarding. It’s a community service, true—but some might say it’s more of a calling. Fostering offers an unparalleled chance for personal growth and the opportunity to make a positive and lasting difference in the life of a child or teen. It allows you to open your heart and share your home with someone who looks to you, when they need it most, for safety, support, and care.
Who are foster kids?
As of March 2018, there were 6,694 children and youth in the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) throughout BC. Children who come into foster care range in age from newborns to teens. They come from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds but all of them are unable to live with their biological family and need a place to stay and a caregiver they can count on.
By becoming a foster caregiver you have the chance to change their lives for the better: to build their confidence, promote their strengths, and give them a stable, caring environment. Your commitment can be short- or long-term, but the love and support you give can last a lifetime.
Who can be a foster parent?
Like the kids themselves, foster caregivers come from a variety of backgrounds, each with different life experiences, skills, and qualities.
You can be single or a couple and don’t need to be a parent already. You can be of any race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation—respecting diversity and differences is a core value we look for in ideal foster caregivers. It isn’t necessary to own your home or have previous training, but you must have the maturity and the willingness to provide day-to-day care for a child or teen.
All foster parents do share a few things in common:
- All are residents of BC who are at least 19 years of age.
- Their homes are safe and nurturing.
- They are comfortable providing guidance and supervision that meets the child’s needs and supports their cultural heritage.
- They are prepared to be active members of the child’s care team.
How does it all work?
Foster parents get compensated through a monthly family care rate, which covers such costs as schooling, food, and clothing for the child. Recognizing that most caregivers also work other jobs, daycare costs can be covered. A foster caregiver can offer full-time or part-time placements, depending on their schedule and availability.
While there is always a demand for more caregivers, there is a particular need for those that can care for sibling groups, children and youth with special needs, and newborn infants who may have been exposed to substances (Safe Babies training is required). There are also many teenagers in care who need homes, so we are always looking for caregivers who have the demeanour and skill set to manage their often complex needs.
Training is provided to prospective foster caregivers, and approved caregivers have access to ongoing training once a home study has been completed. Every foster parent has a Resource Social Worker assigned to them, and there are organizations like the BC Federation of Foster Parent Associations and the Foster Parent Support Services Society that can offer further support, advice, and guidance. In the Nanaimo area, for example, there is a Foster Parent Mentorship program, Foster Parent Networking groups, and many community professionals who are part of each foster child’s care team.
Do you have a little more room in your heart and in your home? If you want to know more about fostering, please check out
www.fosteringconnections.ca or call your local MCFD office for more information. In the Nanaimo area, you can contact Suzanne Jones at 250-741-6732 or Rachel Wallace at 250-741-5432.