Are you ready to make a difference in the life of a child? Many children? Do you think being a foster parent in Canada might be right for you?
Sometimes families in our communities need a little help to get back on their feet and often while they are working at getting the help they need, their children need a safe, healthy, and loving environment in which to stay. This is where a foster parent comes in.
A foster parent applicant can be almost anyone over the age of 18 who is willing to go through all the requirements to become a foster parent and who is then approved by the agency. The majority of foster parents are through the local Children’s Aid Society, although there are a few other residential programs that are licensed by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to provide specialized foster care.
How to become a foster parent in Canada varies slightly between provinces. The first thing you should do if you are interested in becoming a foster parent or learning more about foster parenting in your area, is to contact your local Children’s Aid Society.
Here is a brief overview of how to become a foster parent in Canada, but again, the specifics tend to vary between provinces.
1. Contact your local Children’s Aid Society or licensed residential program that provides specialized foster care. You can find this information by searching online.
2. Information meeting: Once you’ve made contact you will likely be invited to an information meeting about foster care which will give you specific information about becoming a foster parent in your area. It will also explain some of the details of what a foster parent is and what challenges children who are placed in foster care often have.
3. Application: Next you will need to fill out a foster parent application, which includes information about your family and the space that you have in your home that is available for foster children. It will also likely include multiple documents such as:
– A criminal record check with vulnerable sector done through your local police station for anyone living in your home over the age of 18
– Multiple personal references from people who know you
– A medical form filled out by your doctor
-Other checks such as a prior contact check, or an intervention record check
4. Home Study: After this you will likely be given a social worker who will complete a SAFE (Structured Analysis, Family Evaluation) home study. The home study can be quite invasive. Not only do they study your home for potential threats and hazards, but it also studies your family and your extended family. You will also be asked to talk about your parenting skills and your family history.
5. Training: All agencies require training when becoming a foster parent. Some training is done for multiple weeks in a row, other training is done over a longer period of time. Many provinces use a training program called PRIDE – Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education) that must be completed before any children are placed in your home.
6, Approval/licensing: Once your application is approved, your home study is completed successfully and approved, and you have completed and successfully passed your training, the agency will approve your home to be a foster home or provide you with a license to foster parent. Then, you will be placed on a list as an approved foster parent home.
7, Placement: There are different types of placement for foster homes. You may be open to all or just to some. These include: emergency foster placement, relief foster placement, short-term foster placement, long-term foster placement, or foster-to-adopt placement. If a placement comes up, you will get a call from a social worker who will give a few details about a child who is in need of a foster home. You will have the opportunity to accept the foster placement, or decline if you feel the placement would not be successful in your home. Once children are placed in your home, you meet their needs, shower them with love, and accept them with arms open until the time comes for them to move on. It’s not always easy, but it can be incredibly rewarding to play a small but important part in a child’s life, especially at a time in their life that is tumultuous.
Foster parents are a very vital part of our communities. Thank you for considering becoming a foster parent and good luck with the process! You are much appreciated for the lives you will influence, help, and love.