Julie Barlett, The Circle

Our children deserve a calm, stable nurturing environment, and sometimes they need our help finding it.

There are times, unfortunately, when children cannot stay in their family home, either due to physical abuse or neglect, domestic violence, significantly impairing mental health issues, or substance abuse. When those circumstances come to the attention of the Police or Family and Children’s Services (alternatively known as Children’s Aid Society), workers meet with the family to assess the children’s safety and any factors mitigating risk to them, parental strengths and wider familial supports. In situations where those risks cannot be mitigated and the children would be at high risk of abuse or neglect if they remained at home, FACS needs to find alternative living arrangements for the children. That’s perhaps where you come in!

Family and Children’s Services always hopes that these alternate care plans are a temporary measure while the parents’ situation stabilizes. Children may live in either a kinship home or a foster home but the Society places an emphasis on kinship care because of the added measure of stability the familiarity to the adults gives the children.

The Society does its best to maintain the children’s cultural heritage and religious practices but there are times when there are no foster parents with similar backgrounds or religious affiliations. The Kitchener-Waterloo area has a burgeoning Muslim population and it is important as a community that we ensure our children have safe, nurturing Islamic homes in the rare instances that they are not able to stay in their family homes.

Children are presently provided Qur’ans either by the family or the mosque, one sister kindly donated articles for the children, and the masjids work to continue the children’s inclusion in religious and communal activities. Foster parent applicants take a 13 week program called PRIDE that addresses a topic weekly, for example, the kinds of loss the children have experienced, reactive behaviours they may exhibit, and appropriate discipline. They also undergo a very intensive, very intrusive interview process called SAFE that includes a minimum of 5-2hour interviews, Police record checks and reference checks. In situations where the parents have agreed that the children can stay elsewhere, kinship placements are sought. Parents often have family or friends in mind whom they recommend. The process for kinship (out of care) is less intrusive but there are still interviews, Police record checks and assessments to be completed.

If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, please contact the Waterloo Family and Children’s Services’ resource department.