- You are here:
- Who Are the Children?
Who Are the Children?
- What is foster care?
- When do children go into foster care?
- Who are the children we care for?
- How long are kids in foster care?
- Who can become foster parents?
- What are we looking for in our foster parents?
- How long does it take to become a foster parent?
- What is the process?
- How soon will a child be placed with my family?
- How might fostering affect my family?
- Do foster parents receive any help?
- Does Halton need more foster families?
What is Foster Care?
Foster Care provides temporary care in a safe, nurturing, family environment for children and youth who cannot remain with their family at that given time. Care is provided until a permanent plan can be developed, which may facilitate a child or youth’s return home, placement with kin or in an adoptive family. Children and youth who live with foster families have an opportunity to heal, grow and develop. The length of time they spend in care can vary from a few days to months or years, depending on their circumstances. Foster care services are provided by children’s aid societies (CASs) who are mandated by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to protect children and youth.
When Do Children/Youth Go into Foster Care?
Only when families, extended families, friends and others close to them are unable to care for them. The Halton Children’s Aid Society wants to keep children and youth living with their families. That’s a goal we work hard to achieve. Sometimes, even after receiving support, parents are unable to provide adequate care for their children/youth. In these situations, children and youth at risk may have to come into the care of the CAS. In most cases, family environments meet the needs of children and youth best and foster families are usually the first choice. By becoming a foster parent you have the opportunity to make a difference in the life of a child or youth in need.
Who Are the Children and Youth We Care For?
Foster children range in age from infants to 18 years and come from all cultural, ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds. Children and youth are in care for many different reasons:
- because there’s conflict in the family;
- because a parent is ill;
- they come from families that are unable to provide adequate care or the necessities of life;
- some children are in foster care with their parents’ consent, while others are in care under court orders; and
- some children are in foster care to protect them from neglect or abuse.
All of them have one thing in common–they all need safe, stable, caring homes where they can be encouraged to reach their potential.
How Long are Kids in Foster Care?
Some children and youth need foster care for just a few days or weeks. Others may need care for a few months or, in some situations, a few years. The average length of time a child/youth stays in care is between seven months and one year. Foster parents provide a safe and caring environment for each child/youth. Foster parents work together with the Society staff to develop a plan for each child/youth in their care. In situations where reunion is not possible, a permanency plan is made for the child/youth. The role of the foster parent is essential to the daily life of children and youth in care–the caring, nurturing and stable environments foster parents provide help promote the healthy growth and development of children and youth in need. This plays a vital part in enabing the Halton CAS to fulfill its legal responsibility.
Who Can Become Foster Parents?
To meet the diverse needs of the children and youth who come into our care, the Halton CAS recruits diverse foster families. We encourage applications from families of different cultural, ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds. Foster parents include members of the gay and lesbian community, couples with/without children, single parent families, single people, retired (single or married) individuals, married and common-law couples.
- Ability to protect and nurture children. Children and youth placed with foster families need a safe and nurturing environment where parents demonstrate care, respect and acceptance. Some children and youth, who have not been kept safe or adequately cared for, may not accept or understand your efforts at first. Others may demand more attention. Understanding children and youth’s feelings and their reactions to the separation from their families, and the ability to help them deal with these feelings, is important.
- Meeting children’s developmental needs and understanding developmental delays. For most children and youth, growing up is usually a predictable developmental process. Often, children and youth who come into care have not had the opportunity or encouragement to grow through learning and may exhibit developmental delays. Understanding the reasons for these differences, helping them cope and believing in their ability to develop to their full potential are essential in helping them meet their developmental milestones.
- Supporting relationships between children and their birth families. Maintaining birth family, kin and community relationships is essential to a child and youth’s sense of well-being and belonging. Even infants who have never been held by their birth parents have a prenatal, birth and hospital history. The memories, experiences and attachments children and youth bring with them play an important role in helping them understand their history and in maintaining continued relationships with their birth family in a safe environment.
- Connecting children to a lifetime of safe and nurturing relationships in the community. All children and youth are entitled to a lifetime of significant relationships. When they must be separated from their community on a temporary or permanent basis, the role of the foster parent in connecting them to lifetime relationships is very important.
- Reinforcing a child’s heritage, culture and identity. Acknowledging and reinforcing a child’s heritage, cultural identity, gender independence, sexuality and spiritual well-being are important aspects of providing nurturing care for them.
- Participating as a member of a professional team. The Halton CAS works together with foster parents and community partners to provide positive outcomes for children and youth. Foster parents are a part of/and supported by a team of professionals. Experience in caring for children/youth is a definite advantage for a family thinking about fostering. You may still apply to foster even if you have no experience, as long as you have a basic understanding of children and youth’s needs and a willingness to learn. A love of young people, optimism, patience, a good sense of humour and consistency are all essential attributes of successful foster families.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Foster Parent?
The entire process can take up to six months. The length of time depends largely on how quickly you return your application package and how soon we receive your references and background checks.
- Step One: Telephone/email Inquiry
- Step Two: Initial Home Visit to view the home, assist with additional questions and application package.
- Step Three: PRIDE Pre-Service Training.
- Step Four: Home Study (includes interviews).
- Step Five: Approval and Signing of Service Agreement
How Soon Will a Child/Youth be Placed With My Family?
How soon a child or youth is placed with you will depend on a number of factors. For example, if you are willing to have older tweens, teens and siblings placed with you, then you will probably have a placement sooner. That said, finding the right match for a child/youth is more important than the speed of placement. Fostering is truly a family choice. Your children must be involved in making the decision. Fostering will most likely be a challenge for all family members. Some biological children may have difficulty sharing their parents. Supporting a foster child’s adjustment to life within a new family requires patience and acceptance on the part of each family member. Fostering can be a way to strengthen family ties, working together to build a caring and supportive home for a child or youth in need. Fostering can be an enriching family experience, especially when children and youth are reunited with their birth families or when you assist their transition to adoption or help a youth move towards independent living.
How might fostering affect my family?
Fostering is truly a family choice. Your children must be involved in making the decision. Fostering will most likely be a challenge for all family members. Some biological children may have difficulty sharing their parents. Supporting a foster child’s adjustment to life within a new family requires patience, and acceptance on the part of each family member. Fostering can be a way to strengthen family ties, working together to build a caring and supportive home for a child or youth in need. Fostering can be an enriching family experience, especially when children are reunited with their birth families or when you assist their transition to adoption, or help a youth move towards independent living..
Do Foster Families Receive any Help?
If you become a foster parent, you will receive pre‐service training as well as continuing skill and knowledge development through many educational opportunities. Foster families receive a daily, non-taxable room and board rate for each foster child placed in their home. Other covered expenses include clothing, medical, dental, school supplies, recreation and transportation. You will be assigned a worker who will lend you support and guidance. In addition, you will have 24-hour access to our emergency support team. Our foster parents also have their own Foster Parents Association that offers mutual support and networking.
Does the Halton CAS Need More Families?
Although the Society has many experienced and devoted foster families, we desperately need more families that are willing to foster older children–tweens and teens. The Halton CAS is also a part of the Homes for Kids recruitment initiative. For more information about becoming a foster family, please contact Rafiat Lawal at 1.866.607.KIDS (5437) or by email at FosterCare@HaltonCAS.ca.