Let’s address some of the questions and concerns you may have about being a foster parent.
How do foster parents make a difference?
While we believe that the best place for children is with their own families, in about four per cent of our cases, it’s just not safe for the children we support to remain at home. In these situations, foster parents provide a safe, temporary solution for the children while we work with their families to make the changes required to welcome them back home. Foster parents provide loving homes for children to continue growing and developing in a safe environment. In 75 per cent of cases, children return to the care of their parents in less than three months.
What if I’d like to foster, but I’m single?
Foster parents are as unique and diverse as the children we serve. We welcome single people, couples and families of all ages, life stages, cultures and sexual orientations.
What kind of qualifications do I need to be a foster parent?
Foster parents must have a genuine interest in helping children and a willingness to be open and respectful of all religions, backgrounds, sexual orientations, cultures and lifestyles in our community. They must have a family lifestyle that can accommodate children, which is stable, active, flexible, and it’s always helpful to have a good sense of humour! Other qualifications include:
- Good physical and mental health
- No criminal record, no record of child abuse, neglect or domestic violence in the home.
- Residence stability – you should have a stable home/residence in the Niagara Region. You can rent or own your home. If you are moving or renovating, it would be wise to wait until you are more settled
- Financial stability – an income that is independent of any foster care reimbursement
As a foster parent applicant, you’ll receive extensive training through a nine-week orientation program that will help you gain knowledge and skills related to foster parenting. Once you are approved as a foster parent, you’ll have access to ongoing training and skill development support, including support groups with other foster parents and support from FACS Niagara staff.
Are there more urgent needs for specific types of foster parents?
Yes. We urgently need:
- Families of various ethnicities, cultures, religions, and orientations
- Families who wish to care for teens
- Families who wish to care for infants and toddlers
- Families from all communities in Niagara
Can I work outside the home and still foster?
We have couples and individuals who work outside the home and some who parent at home full time. If a foster family is caring for a child under school age (0-5 years), one parent must be at home during the day. FACS does not cover the cost of daycare.
Can I specify the age or other considerations of the children I’d prefer to foster?
Yes. Some families love to care for infants, some prefer the independence of teens, and others enjoy school-age children. We will help you make this choice while we work with you in the assessment process. We will discuss the age, gender, behaviour level, and any challenges a child has with you before you agree to have them placed in your home. Together we will decide what works best for you, your family, and any child we may place in your home.
Does my home have to have an extra bedroom for a foster child?
No. It is usually preferred, but a child can share a room as long as they have their own bed, is sharing with a child of the same sex (unless under the age of two), and no adults share the room unless the needs or illness of the child require this. There are specific regulations about room size and home safety standards that we will go over with you as part of your initial assessment.
Are foster parents compensated?
Foster parents receive financial compensation for a child’s living expenses, as well as medical and dental coverage, clothing, school, and recreation expenses. In addition to financial compensation, foster parents have access to a range of other support, including:
- Intensive training as part of the assessment process and ongoing training opportunities to support continued skill development
- Agency/Staff support, including comprehensive case management, access to services in the community and collaborative planning for the child
- A dedicated Resources Worker who provides ongoing support and assistance to the foster home
- Peer support from experienced foster parents, including monthly support groups, the Foster Parents Association, and a newsletter
- 24 available respite days per year where other foster parents are available to temporarily care for the children you are fostering while you’re away or in need of a break
What does the application and assessment process to become a foster parent involve?
The entire application process to become a foster parent typically takes between six and nine months. There are nine key steps:
Call FACS Niagara at 905-937-7731 or toll-free 1-888-937-7731 and ask to speak to the Resources Intake worker. You’ll participate in our Phone Screening Process and have all your preliminary questions answered.
You’ll receive an Information package and application in the mail, which you’ll need to complete and return to us.
A Resources Intake worker will schedule an appointment for further assessment, including a home safety inspection.
A Resources Intake worker will register you and invite you to attend PRIDE (Parent Resources Information Development and Education) Pre-Service Training.
You’ll have a Criminal Records Check, Child Welfare Check, Health Report, and Personal References completed and then return that information to FACS.
You’ll attend the nine-week PRIDE (Parent Resources Information Development and Education) Training.
The Home Assessment process will continue with your Resources Intake worker.
Your Resources Intake worker will complete the assessment and determine whether you are a recommended applicant. Your Resources Intake worker will meet with you to review the report.
If you receive a recommendation, FACS will create a foster home profile outlining availability of beds and what type of child would fit well in your home, and you will await news of a placement.
How is fostering different than adoption?
Foster care is temporary, and adoption is permanent. Foster parents do not assume legal guardianship of a child in their care. Children in foster care usually visit regularly with their natural family, with the hope that they can eventually reunite with them.
Adoption is a permanent decision. Adoptive parents assume legal guardianship of a child and make a life-long commitment to care for them as a permanent member of their family. For more information about adoption through FACS Niagara, please visit our adoption page.
Can I be a foster parent if I smoke?
FACS Niagara does not place medically fragile children or children under 5 years of age with foster families who smoke (even if they smoke outside of the home). Foster parents who smoke may care for children over the age of 5; however, they must limit their smoking to outside of the home and may not smoke while transporting children in their vehicles.
How should I start the application process to become a foster parent?
The first step in the process is to call FACS Niagara at 905-937-7731 or toll-free 1-888-937-7731 and ask to speak to the Resources Intake worker.