Responsibilities & Expectations

What Is A Foster Family?

Foster parents come from all walks of life and a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. A foster family is a warm, safe and loving home for a child/youth. The goal of the foster parent is to provide a temporary home that provides a stable and caring environment with skilled care. Foster families act as a parent, a mentor, a guide, a protector, a team member, an advocate, a teacher and a caregiver. Foster parents are part of a team of professionals that support the physical, mental and emotional healing of children and families. A foster home is considered to be a temporary placement for a child who cannot remain within their own family. Children may need foster care for just a few days, a week, several months or possibly years. The ideal plan is to reunite a child/youth with their natural family. If this is not possible, the plan may include adoption or long term foster care.

Who Will You Be Caring For?

There are approximately 2,900 children in foster care in the Province of Alberta at any given time. Children are removed from their family only when all reasonable attempts to protect and/or meet the child’s needs have failed. Children come into care for a variety of reasons including family breakdown, exposure to drugs, alcohol, violence, physical or sexual abuse, neglect or abandonment. The ages of the children range between infant to 17 years and they come from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds. Some of these children have special needs such as behavioural and emotional problems, developmental delays or prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol. Each child is unique and there is no typical child, but each one requires not only warmth and acceptance, but consistency, structure and behaviour management.

What to Expect When a Child is Placed in Your Home

Foster families participate in the matching process and you will have already indicated to your agency what age and gender you feel will best fit with your family dynamics. You will also be asked whether you feel comfortable caring for a child with various behaviours, (i.e. tantrums, hyperactivity, verbal or physical aggression, etc.).

Before a child is placed in your home, you will be given as much information as possible for you to decide whether or not to accept the placement. When possible, pre-placement visits are arranged. These visits are especially useful for older children so that everyone can get a sense if the placement will fit for everyone. If at all possible, every effort is made to keep siblings together in one foster home. If this cannot occur, it is strongly encouraged that sibling and family visits occur on a regular basis.

Foster Parent Training Requirements

Training is an important to meet the increasing needs of the children that come into foster care. Foster parents are financially compensated based on their skills and experience which they have developed and the level of needs of the children that come into their care.

Foster Parent training actually begins prior to children ever coming into your home. Initially Pathways recommends that you attend an Information Session (Orientation to Caregiver Training or O.C.T.) about “Becoming a Foster Family”. This session would answer questions about The Foster Care Program, the application process and the children who need placements and their special needs. This session also will help to determine if fostering is the right decision for you and your family. This orientation to fostering consists of 24 hours of in depth and realistic information of what to expect if you become foster parents.

First Aid Training: All foster parents are required to have Emergency First Aid level training with C Level CPR. This training is renewed every three years.

Suicide Intervention Training: All foster parents are required to complete 7 hours of Suicide Intervention training within 9 months of commencing fostering. This training is renewed every three years.

Aboriginal Awareness Training: All foster parents are required to attend 7 hours of Aboriginal Training within 9 months of commencing fostering. Foster parents are then required to complete a minimum of eight hours of Aboriginal Training per year.

Ongoing Foster Parent Training: Foster parents are required to complete 31 modules, each 3 hours in duration, prior to their 4 year anniversary date. This averages less than one (1) module per month including a break during July and August. The topics for the modules are geared towards the learning and improving your skills as a foster parent and include such topics as: How to Observe, Record & Report, Childhood Development, The Effects of Abuse & Neglect, Understanding and Managing FASD, and Keeping Family Connections.

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