This section pertains to the recruitment and management of foster home resources by child and family services agencies and their mandating authorities. It includes persons who provide a place of safety and apply for a foster home licence as required in Section 1.4.2, Place of Safety.
The definition of a foster home in section 1 of The Child and Family Services Act excludes the home of parent or guardian of a child. Section 7 of the Act lists the duties of child and family services agencies. Clause (g) requires an agency to provide care for children in its care. Clause (l) requires an agency to develop and maintain child care resources. Section 8 provides for the licensing of foster homes.
Clause 19(l) of The Child and Family Services Authorities Act requires authorities to ensure the development of appropriate placement resources for children.
Under section 20 of the Child and Family Services Authorities Regulation, the authorities and the director (Director of Child and Family Services) share the duty under clause 4(1)(j) of The Child and Family Services Act to ensure the development of appropriate placement resources for children.
Foster parents play an essential role in the delivery of child and family services. As members of an agency team that works with foster children and their families, they provide the stability of a family setting for children in care under The Child and Family Services Act.
The purpose of foster care is to protect and nurture children and to strengthen families. It is intended to provide children with a temporary residence until they can be returned home, adopted or graduate to independent living. For some children, however, remaining in long-term foster care is the best plan for them.
Foster home resources should be used for children who can benefit most from a family environment. Other forms of placement may be preferable for a child who has extreme needs a foster family could not meet. In recent years, the development and use of specialized foster homes has reduced reliance on group home and treatment centre placements. The importance of developing culturally appropriate resources has also been recognized.
Child and family services agencies are responsible for the development, licensing and use of foster homes through staff assigned to manage these resources. Depending on the size and staffing patterns of the agency, this responsibility may be carried out through a program manager, foster home coordinator or district supervisor. Provincial policies and standards relating to human resource practices and screening of applicants for employment apply.
An agency’s foster care program must complement and support its responsibilities to provide services to families and child protection services. Agencies and their mandating authorities are expected to ensure coordination of these functions.
Agencies may rely on assistance from their mandating authority or collaboration with other agencies or service organizations in carrying out their foster home management responsibilities.
Child and family services authorities and their agencies collectively share the responsibility to ensure there is an adequate supply of suitable foster homes to meet the needs of the majority of children in care through appropriate means including:
Agencies are encouraged to develop annual foster home recruitment plans that include information on:
Agencies are required to respond to all enquiries about foster parenting. As stated in 3(1.1) of the Foster Homes Licensing Regulation, if an agency has enough foster homes, it may decline to accept an application. However, as part of its responsibility to other agencies, the agency is expected to identify potential foster parents and to encourage them to apply to another agency. Agencies are also expected to record enquiries as an incidental contact in accordance with Standard 2 in Section 1.7.1, Service Records.
Agencies receive funding for foster parent orientation and training. These funds are to be used for orienting foster home applicants as required under subsection 3(3) of the Foster Homes Licensing Regulation and for ongoing training.
For orientation, agencies are expected to follow the Orientation/Preservice for Foster Caregivers curriculum developed and distributed by the Child Protection Branch. Alternative resources may be used providing they include the similar content. Although not required, agencies are also encouraged to provide an orientation to foster home applicants when the foster child to be placed is personally known to them.
Agencies and their mandating authorities are also expected to provide ongoing training for foster parents (see Foster Parent Training and Development in Section 1.5.5, Support and Respite, for details).
There are six categories of complaints relating to foster homes. Child and family services agencies and their authorities are expected to respond to each category as follows:
Child Protection (Including Abuse) Allegations – This type of complaint involves an allegation that a child is or might be in need of protection as a result of an act or omission by a foster parent, alternate care provider or other individual in the home. These situations must be dealt with as a child protection referral. These situations are covered in detail in Section 1.3.4, Provincial Child Abuse Investigations.
Complaints about Foster Homes other than Child Protection Allegations – These are complaints other than allegations that a child is or might be in need of protection. They may pertain to concerns about the care and supervision of a foster child, alleged violations of approved standards or failure by a foster parent to report an incident involving a foster child. In addition to requirements in Section 1.7.3, Complaint Review Process, agencies and their authorities are expected to resolve these complaints in a way that both respects the role of foster families and is in the best interests of the child.
Complaints by Foster Parents and Care Providers – These are complaints made by foster parents or other care providers in a foster home. They may pertain to such matters as lack of contact or support by an agency, lack of services or resources for a child, insufficient funding, the amount of respite provided, interference by parents of a foster child and compensation for damages. Agencies and their authorities are expected to respond to these complaints as required under Section 1.7.3, Complaint Review Process.
Appeals against Licensing Decisions – These complaints pertain to the right of foster home applicants and parents under subsection 8(2) of The Child and Family Services Act to appeal decisions made by licensing agencies with respect to the issuing, suspension cancellation or renewal of a foster home licence. This category is covered in Section 1.5.2, Licensing and Licensing Appeals.
Grievances by Foster Children – This category pertains to the right of foster children under section 21 of the Foster Homes Licensing Regulation to grieve the actions of a foster parent and other care providers in a foster home. Policies and standards relating to this category are contained in Section 1.5.4, Care Roles and Responsibilities.
Removal of Children – This category pertains to the right of foster parents under section 51 of The Child and Family Services Act to appeal an agency’s decision to remove a child. It is covered in Section 1.5.6, Removing Children.
Mandated child and family services agencies have the legislative authority to licence foster homes. This authority cannot be delegated. However, activities related to the development and management of foster home resources may be carried out by a managing agency, for example, another mandated agency or a service organization such as a group home, treatment centre or family service agency. The licensing agency, however, continues to have legal responsibility for the operation and use of the home.
Consistent with section 6.1 of the Foster Homes Licensing Regulation, there must be only one agency responsible for managing each foster home applicant or foster family, whether it is the licensing agency or a managing agency. Conversely, each applicant and family must have an agency that is responsible for that home.
Resource management activities carried out by a managing agency may include:
A foster home record is a service record of a foster home applicant or parent created by a child and family services agency or a service provider. It includes a foster care management case created in the Child and Family Services Information System (CFSIS) and any other electronic or paper record created by an agency or service provider.
Foster home records are voluntary service records under subsection 76(12) of The Child and Family Services Act. Foster parents have a right to access information on the file subject only to limitations to access in subsections 76(4) to (8) of the Act.
Information and documentation in a foster home record can only be disclosed in accordance with subsection 76(3) of the Act and, when a foster parent had requested a licence transfer, section 13.1 of the Foster Homes Licensing Regulation. Information and documentation in foster home records cannot be shared with agency staff not directly involved in the licensing and management of the home without the consent of the foster parents unless the information is relevant to a child protection investigation.
When a foster parent applies for a licence transfer to another agency, all third-party information and documentation on file relating to the licensing of the home such as medical or personal references form part the record and are included in the information and documentation transferred to the other agency (see Standard 15 in Section 1.5.2, Licensing and Licensing Appeals).
As part of their responsibility to develop, manage and support placement resources for children in care (see Standard 1 in this section), foster home coordinators or program managers are required to maintain a current list of all foster home applicants and licensed foster homes, including families and agency staff providing a place of safety. The list is compiled from information recorded on the foster care management records (see Standard 8) and contains the information required under Standard 9.
All agencies are required to use CFSIS for generating resource lists for children in care who are a provincial financial responsibility. First Nations agencies are also encouraged to use CFSIS to generate reports for children who are a federal financial responsibility.
Agencies require authorization from the Child Protection Branch to generate the following CFSIS reports relating to foster care and places of safety:
RFac001 Foster Home Statistics