FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT FOSTERING
What is a foster parent?
A foster parent is someone who provides temporary care to a child who is unable to live with his or her natural family and is in the care of a Children’s Aid Society such as Native Child and Family Services. Foster parents provide a stable and supportive home for a child for however long he or she needs to be in care. The child takes part in family life like any other member of the family and participates in family and community activities. Where possible, it is always the intention of NCSFT to return children to their natural family. Most children admitted into care will return home.
Do I have to identify as Aboriginal to be a foster parent with NCFST?
To meet the needs of Aboriginal children who require our care, it is important that we recruit foster families who can match those needs. This includes an understanding of the cultural and spiritual identity of the child. Although it is preferable to place children with Aboriginal foster parents, you do not need to be Native to be a foster parent for NCFST; what is most important is a sincere desire to make a difference in the life of a child and a willingness to work with us to make sure his or her cultural and spiritual needs are met
What is the difference between foster care and adoption?
Foster care is temporary; foster parents do not assume legal guardianship of the child and usually a child residing in a foster home will continue to have visits with members of the natural family. Where possible, the intention in fostering is to reunite the child with his or her natural family. Adoption, on the other hand, is a permanent arrangement; parents assume legal guardianship of the child and there is no contact with the natural family.
Why are children taken into care?
Children are admitted into care either by apprehension or parental consent for dozens of different reasons, including physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, lack of supervision, lack of housing, parental illness, behaviour problem, emotional rejection, severe parent-child conflict. In some instances children have been abandoned or parents are too ill or troubled to provide care for their children.
What are the ages of children who are in care?
Homes are needed for children aged newborn to 18. (Young adults between the ages of 19 and 21 may be supported on Extended Care and Maintenance.) In consultation with a social worker, foster parents may choose the age range of the child(ren) they would like to care for. The child’s developmental level, needs, religion, culture, language, and the foster parent’s level of skills and comfort are all taken into consideration when matching a child with a foster family.
How long would a child be living with me?
Some children might live with a foster family for a few days, weeks, or months. Others may live with a foster family for years. In some cases, a child may spend his or her entire childhood in care. For the most part, children tend to live with a foster family for a matter of months. In fostering it is always hoped that a child can be returned to his or her natural family. In some cases, the parents have to demonstrate that changes have taken place in order to make the home safe again. When a child is admitted into care, a plan is developed with goals and expectations and time frames. Foster families are involved in the planning for their foster child(ren) and receive training to help them to do this well.
How many children can I care for?
We believe that one child in a foster home is the optimal choice. Some of our experienced foster parents, however, may care for up to four children at any given time, provided they have adequate space in their home to do so. No more than two children can be under the age of two. Exceptions to these limits may apply in the case of siblings in order to keep them together.
Does a foster child need to have his or her own bedroom?
Ideally, a foster child should have his or her own bedroom, and is not permitted to share a bedroom with a biological child of the foster parents. The bedroom must have a door and a window, a dresser and appropriate bedding. It is preferred that the child’s bedroom be located on the same level of the home as the parent’s. Please note that a child may not share a room with an adult unless the needs of an infant or illness of a child require such an arrangement. The adults in the home need to have their own bedroom, as opposed to sleeping in a living room or den.
Will my beds be filled all the time?
No. There may be times when a bed or beds in your home will not be filled. It may be your choice, or it may be because a child whose needs are a match and a fit for your home and skills is not currently in need of placement.
Can single people foster?
Yes. We have many wonderful foster parents who are single, some of whom have children of their own and some who don’t. Couples who have been living in a stable common law relationship for two years may also apply to foster.
Can I become a foster parent if I am gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered?
Yes, sexual orientation or identity does not exclude you from becoming a foster parent.
Do I have to be a stay-at-home Mom or Dad?
Not necessarily. However, the foster parent or parents must have time to commit to a child. For children whose lives have already been disrupted, consistency of care is crucial. Some foster parents may work out of their home and others may have considerable flexibility in their work so that they can be there for a child who may, for example, be sick and unable to attend school. Similarly, they have the means to care for a child during summer months and other holidays.
Couples or single applicants who work outside the home will be asked to provide a support plan, detailing their care arrangements for a child during brief periods when their work schedule prevents them from being available. Keep in mind that if full-time fostering does not seem a possibility for you, you can always consider relief or part-time fostering, which would involve weekends and a week or two now and then, particularly during summer holidays.
Would my beliefs about particular issues prevent me from fostering?
NCFST embraces families and children from diverse backgrounds. Our foster parents represent diversity in age, sexual orientation, religion, cultural, ethnic and racial backgrounds. We are looking for foster families who are respectful of these diversities and who are flexible and able to value differences.
Can I foster if I rent my home/apartment, or do I have to own my home?
Yes, you can foster if you are renting. Foster parents live in apartments, townhouses, and houses.
What supports are available for foster parents?
A number of supports are available: a 24 hour on-call worker, a social worker assigned to the foster family to help meet their needs, a social worker for every child who is in care, foster parent support groups that meet regularly, and our Foster Parent Association.
What financial supports are provided?
Foster parents are not employees and do not receive a salary. They receive a daily rate or per diem for each child in their care. The money you receive is non-taxable. It is considered reimbursement for expenses incurred and foster parents do not claim it as income. Foster parents are also reimbursed for expenses such as the foster child’s clothing and school supplies. All medical and dental expenses are covered as well.
How long is the application process and what’s involved?
The application process takes about four to six months. It involves two main components: a home-study whereby a social worker will interview the family and survey the physical lay-out of the home; and Pre-Service Training, a mini preparatory course designed to prepare you for your new role as a foster parent. The training program is approximately 20 hours in total, usually running an evening or two a week for four to eight weeks and sometimes a full day on Saturday. The program covers such things as policies and procedures of fostering, child management, discipline strategies and how to respond to a child who may have been physically or sexually abused.
How can I become a foster parent?
Contact us at 416.969.8510. We will answer any additional questions you have as well as explain details about the application process. Each foster parent applicant will be carefully assessed so that we may ensure the best possible parenting can be provided to children in care.