Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fostering

Canada, thankfully, is a country which takes care of its children whom can’t remain at home, through foster care. As opposed to many other countries that in comparison have orphanages set up, children here ideally get more one-on-one attention, are raised in a typical parent/child model home, and are expected to live happier, healthier lives with a greater ability to thrive. Ideally this set-up seems great. Think again!

While there are many, many foster homes out there that are caring, loving homes, there are many, many that unfortunately are not. I have seen first hand foster parents (fp’s) who put their foster children in daycare while their biological children get to stay home. I have witnessed fp’s take their biological children on vacations, while leaving their foster children in respite homes. I have viewed fp's talk about their foster children as mere incomes, and have even become aware of foster parents that make their foster children eat separate meals from the rest of the family. The sad reality is that so many of these already troubled children are entering into homes where they are not being treated as part of the family. They are not receiving unconditional love, knowing they will ultimately be shipped to the next foster home if they misbehave. They are not being raised with the proper tools to then raise their own healthy family in the future, only perpetuating the cycle. A vast majority of foster children then grow up to have their own children put into foster care.

So what can we do about this? We can start fostering. What we need more of are loving, Christian homes that are able to take in these children, regardless of their backgrounds, behavioural issues, or special needs. We need people who for a brief moment in time will allow these children to feel like they are part of a family, learning Christian values, and feeling unconditional love. We also need families, who even once the paycheques have stopped because the child has turned 19 and aged out of the system, are available as mentors, parental figures, and family for these children who are left to embark on the world alone. One of the goals I would like to see accomplished through our ministry is the development of a mentoring system for just such children. Even though they may no longer live in a foster home, they might still have somewhere to go for holidays, summer break, times of trouble, or just good old fashioned fellowship!

The Need.

Currently there are more than 800 children in foster care in the South Fraser region. There is a need for homes for all ages, especially older children, teens and aboriginal homes. Children as young as twelve years old can be placed in hotel rooms, basement suites, or group homes, when open foster homes are not available. Becoming a foster parent is similar to becoming an adoptive parent through the ministry, as I will outline below, and offers financial support to help cover the costs of that child. A separate bedroom with a window is a requirement, but owning, renting, large homes, small homes, kids or no kids, does not affect your ability to foster, although no more than 6 children (biological or fostered) are allowed in a home. Foster parents are paid based on the level of their homes which can vary:
                                                Age 11 and under         Age 12 - 19
Restricted/Regular                    $803.82/mo                 $909.95/mo
Level 1                                     $1261.84/mo               $1367.97/mo
Level 2 (max 3 kids)                 $1944.22/mo                 $2050.35/mo
Level 3 (max 2 kids)                 $2620.48/mo               $2726.61/mo
Regular homes are placed with your average children, while levelled homes can be placed with children with physical, mental, or behavioural issues.

If you would like to become a foster parent just follow these easy steps:

  1. Phone your local social worker at 604-951-5701
  2. Attend an information session
  3. Attend an 18-hour pre-service orientation
  4. Formally apply and provide references
  5. Participate in a home study (medical checks, criminal record checks, interviews)
  6. Become an approved foster home!

Deciding to become a foster parent may be a difficult step, but loving a child is not!

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