Katie, a foster mom with two adopted children of her own, remembers her emotionally-charged first meeting with a young teen who arrived with all her belongings crammed into two garbage bags:”You know she’s terrified . . . and we’re a bit terrified . . . and she’s this lovely, lovely young lady who for all intents and purposes has just had a bit of rotten circumstances in her life.” During their first few hours together, Katie remembers wondering, “Who is this girl? And what does she need from us? And how do we keep her safe?”
It’s natural to feel intimidated. In addition to mandatory training, fostering and adoptive families in Guelph and Wellington County can access optional courses, staff support and connections to community and government supports through Family & Children’s Services. For Katie, that ongoing support and “speaking with other people doing this work is so beneficial to me and so rejuvenating. I come home thinking, ‘Oh yeah, I really want to do this.’ ” Katie also sees the big picture benefits to fostering. “You’re benefiting the whole of society somehow . . . if I can be involved in helping break the cycle of intergenerational trauma . . . that’s pretty exciting work.”
If you’re thinking about becoming a foster parent, you likely have lots of questions. You may wonder if you need special qualifications or if you’re even eligible to foster a child. What if you’re older, or single or already have kids? What if you don’t have a lot of money? Ultimately, none of that stuff matters. As Katie says, “Imperfect kids need imperfect people. Because if we’re too perfect . . . it makes it much harder for a child whose story has challenges in it to bring that to the table and share that openly.
“What they need are just people who are ready to influence them in a positive way and encourage them on this life journey together.”The young teen who showed up with her belongings in two garbage bags has been a part of Katie’s family for two years now. She asked if she could live there forever.”And I said, ‘No, you can’t live here forever because you’re going to grow up to be a healthy adult with your own money. But you can live here until you’re ready to do that.’ And that was a good day.”
There is a desperate need for foster homes for kids in Guelph and Wellington County. As of July 2016, there were 74 open foster homes and approximately 179 children in care. To find out more about becoming a foster parent visit fcsgw.org or call 519-824-2410.
What is Foster Care?
Foster Parents provide a stable and supportive home for children and youth who are unable to live with their own families. Children and youth may need foster care for a few days, a few weeks or longer. Family & Children’s Services of Guelph and Wellington County (F&CS) is looking for families and individuals from all backgrounds regardless of marital status, race, religion and sexual orientation that can welcome a child or youth into their home and provide support to them. Homes are needed for children of all ages, from newborns to teens. Foster Parents receive ongoing training and support from F&CS staff and some financial assistance. Fostering is a rewarding opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children, youth and families in your community.
What is Kinship Care?
Kinship Care is the same as Foster Care except, the Foster Parent is known to the child. This means a relative, family friend or someone from the community connected to the child can become that child or youth’s Foster Parent. When a child or youth is unable to reside with their caregiver, the agency looks first to people known to the child to provide substitute care.
What is a FTP (Families to Permanence) parent?
A FTP Family is able to commit to a child in all of these circumstances:
- To help the child return to the care of their birth parents;
- To transition to the care of another family member; or
- To have the child become a permanent, legal member of their family if the child does not return home or to another family member.