WAYS Enhanced Foster Care Program takes pride in the level of care that is provided through our foster families. Although we offer training and support to our foster families, there are many key elements that also assist in making foster placements successful. Many foster parents, until they actually begin fostering, are unaware of potential issues and challenges that may arise. Knowledge and preparation for these issues and challenges helps to provide a more positive experience.
Ask yourself and consider the following:
- Do you have a strong support system of friends and/or family?
This is important, as fostering can become very stressful at times. It’s good to have someone who will listen if you need to vent.
- Are you a patient person?
Are you willing to continually give and very rarely get anything in return, except for the knowledge that you are helping a family?
- Many people enter into foster care thinking they are rescuing a child from an abusive parent.
You might believe the child will be grateful and relieved to be out of his/her home situation. This is rarely the case. Abuse is not always the reason a child is unable to live at home and sometimes abuse is all the child may know. The child’s situation is his/her “normal”. Be prepared for the child to be anything but happy about being in your home. Examine your expectations. What are you expecting; not only from the child but from his or her parents and the fostering experience itself? High expectations can lead to disappointment and frustration
- Kids in care have sometimes been neglected or abused.
The children may be angry, resentful and sad. They may take it out of their foster parents or have other mental health issues as a result. Are you willing and able to deal with what the children may put on you, and not take it personally? This is harder than it seems, especially when you are being kicked or sworn at.
- Are you willing to have social workers, support workers and other professionals in your home every month or more?
Can you work in a partnership with a team of professionals to help the child either get back home or to another permanent living situation such as adoption? Can you allow others to make important decisions regarding the child, including the child’s natural parents, even though you are the one caring for him or her?
- If you have children of your own, how do they feel about foster care?
It’s important to consider every member of the family when thinking about fostering. Everyone in the house will be living and interacting with the foster child and his or her behaviours. Your children will have to share their home, room, toys and parents. Although there are benefits, they sacrifice a lot in becoming part of a fostering family. Ask your children how they feel and respect what they have to say. Also, be aware your child may learn or pick up whatever the foster child knows, both the good and the bad.
- What ages of children can you parent at this time?
Consider the ages of your own children and where another child would fit into your family. Is a baby right for you? While you won’t have to deal with foul language, you will have to give up sleep and basically “start over” if your own children are grown. Would a school aged child work better for your family? Also, consider the sex of the child. These are choices that are all up to you as a foster parent. You will also be given choices on what behaviours you feel you can and cannot parent at this time. Be aware of the fact that many behaivours may not surface until the child feels safe enough to be him/herself. The social workers are not always aware of a child’s behavior at the time of referral.
We encourage applicants of diverse backgrounds including age, sex, sexual orientation, culture, marital status, religion or handicap to apply. WAYS promotes recruitment of individuals and families with combined life, work and educational backgrounds. Personal qualifications of honesty, trustworthiness, open to learn, empathetic, genuine, positive attitude, warm, caring and stable are all traits sought upon when recruiting foster parents.
- Applicant(s) must be 18 years of age or older and have the physical and emotional energy and ability to care for a child.
- Couples and single individuals may provide foster care.
- All members of the fostering family, including children, must be supportive and committed to the fostering plan.
- Applicants must be in good physical and mental health and submit confirmation by a licensed physician.
- The foster home must meet the criteria for bedrooms, space and general housing requirements.
- Applicants are expected to have a stable income sufficient to maintain their own family members.
- Persons with a history of verified or suspected child abuse or neglect towards children in their care are not permitted to foster.
- Persons presently receiving protection services from the local CAS are not eligible to apply.
- Applicants who have been convicted of a criminal offence will be eligible only after a period of 5 years after the conviction and following careful consideration by WAYS of the circumstances surrounding the conviction and the effect it may have on the applicant’s ability to care for children.
Steps to Becoming a Foster Parent
- Are you and your family in a situation to open your home at this time? Is everyone, including your children, on board?
- Contact Us! Give our Program Manager Linda Shields a call at 519-432-2209 x 3352. Initial information about foster care and qualifications is shared through a telephone conversation. If you would like to proceed, a package of information and relevant application forms are mailed to you. Prospective applicants are requested to complete the application form and apply for a police records check for all persons over the age of 18 living in the home.
- WAYS foster team will endeavour to select and process foster parent applicants in a prompt and timely manner. A member of the foster team will conduct the complete assessment process. The assessment will consist of a combination of interviews, self-reporting documentation, observations, collection of references and other relevant documentation to be summarized in a written report. Final approval of an application for fostering will be the responsibility of the Executive Director.