Imagine coming home from school and not knowing what or who you were going to find when you walked through the doors of what is supposed to be your safe place.
Then imagine being that safe, stable home, where you model a healthy family unit to that child. This is what a foster family does. Providing a teen with a warm home and regular meals who previously didn’t know where they were sleeping each night. Someone to help them navigate adolescence. Being the one who gives a consistent response in a calm, soothing manner to an infant who previously didn’t know if they were going to be comforted, have a diaper changed, or even be fed. These are some of the many ways foster parents step in and respond when a child comes into care.
Most people aren’t aware, but there is a need for foster parents for all ages of children in your community right now. The children live in all quadrants of Calgary and surrounding areas, in need of that one caring adult or family who is willing to step up and guide, nurture, and advocate for them.
Have you ever considered opening your home - and heart - to a vulnerable child or youth in need of safety, stability, connection, and love? Did you know that in the Calgary Region alone, there are approximately 1200 children in care at any given time?
Whether or not you have known of the need or thought about it previously, there’s a good chance that you have questions running through your mind right now. I know I did when I started my foster caregiving journey over ten years ago.
Would I be eligible to care for a child?
Whether single, common-law, married, or recently retired, you could be eligible to be a foster parent. There are some basic eligibility requirements and considerations, such as having an extra bedroom available that could be solely dedicated to that child, having a vehicle with insurance, and having the flexibility to take a child to an appointment, or stay home with them if sick.
Even if I was eligible, could I love and welcome a child into my home and then let them go?
If I had a dollar for every time I was told “I couldn’t do what you do, I’d get too attached…” Well let me say, if this question has popped into your head and you’re wondering about getting “too attached” you would probably make an excellent foster parent! Speaking for myself and the other foster parents I know, we have huge hearts and put our all into helping these kids blossom and heal from their trauma. Getting “too attached” is exactly what these kids need during this difficult time in their lives.
What is the process like to become a foster caregiver?
In general, the process can take anywhere from six to eight months. Start by finding an agency that is the right fit for you and then reach out to them. The agency will have more questions to ensure that you do meet the basic eligibility requirements. From there, you will usually attend an Information Session where you can get all your questions answered prior to moving forward in the process. Then there are various steps including, but not limited to, a screening appointment, filling out paperwork, gathering references, medicals and police checks, attending online training, and completing a SAFE model home study.
As a foster caregiver, you have a chance to make a difference in the life of our most valuable assets as a society – our children and, by extension, their families. It is a life-changing decision for both you and the children that are welcomed into your home. There are so many ways that it impacted us and our children, from expanding our parenting toolbox, to informing the decisions of our children – not only as tweens and teens growing up with foster siblings, but now in their career choices and perspectives as young adults.
Perhaps now is the time to start your foster parent journey.
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