A child who is not able to live with his or her birth family still needs and deserves a caring and supportive home. In fact, being separated from family is very troubling for a child, so there may be no time in a child's life when living in a good home is more important. The best place for these children to live is with another family, a family that is able to accept the child as one of their own.
Single persons or couples, with or without children, can apply to become foster families.
Foster parents may live in an apartment or their own home. They can live in an urban centre or a rural community. Foster parents may be from any ethnic, racial or cultural background. The qualities important in fostering are that you recognize the value of children and are prepared to offer them care, attention, guidance and patience, in a stable home environment. It is important that the whole family participate in the decision to foster a child. A foster family must be flexible and appreciate that a foster child may not always live up to their expectations.
It also helps to have a sense of humour!
Social workers who interview prospective foster families look for some special qualities:
- the warmth to care for a foster child and make him or her feel wanted and loved;
- the tolerance to accept a child from an unstable family background, who may or may not want to be with a foster family;
- the patience to work with a child who may be withdrawn or hyperactive;
- the willingness to accept the fact that the child may still want to be involved with his or her family;
- the commitment to attend training to gain additional knowledge necessary for helping the foster child.
If you think you have the special qualities and time to become a foster family or want more information on fostering, contact the Manitoba Foster Family Network or your local child and family services provider. A worker will explain the foster program to you in detail and answer any specific questions you may have.