Support and Respite
Foster homes require continual support to meet the needs of the children placed in their home. Pathways carefully matches the training and skills of the foster home to the needs of the child. The foster parent is always given the last word on whether they will accept a placement or not. How much support depends on each foster home’s circumstance. Pathways Family Services has built a solid reputation for providing excellent support to our foster homes. Each foster home receives as much support as they think they need, especially in times of crisis.
Along with support respite is necessary for foster parents to rest and recharge their emotional batteries, as well as to ensure special time with their own family members. Unfortunately, good quality respite caregivers are difficult to find. The typical neighborhood teen or a close family member may not be the best choice. Often, the exceptional behaviors of children require supervision by adults with specialized knowledge in behavior management. On the other hand, respite can be a two-edge sword. A goal of foster care is to normalize life for children that may have experienced instability in their own family. For these children, respite can be seen as traumatic and destabilizing. So, respite for a child-in-care requires careful and reflective planning.
Support - The following is considered on-going minimal levels of support given to each home:
Respite - When appropriate, our foster care program looks to the following options for respite:
Upon placement of a child, Pathways will contact you within 24 hours of the child’s arrival. Our goal is to explore if there are any immediate needs for the child and listen to the foster parents about any concerns or needs they have or foresee. With newer foster parents, we will also be sharing information to ensure the foster parents have all the information about the child and their situation that will aide in the caring of the child.
A Foster Care Support Worker (FCSW) from Pathways will make face-to-face contact in the foster home within 5 days of a new placement arriving in your home, or earlier if needed. Initial behavioural assessments are discussed and an initial case plan is prepared at that time. This also gives Pathways an opportunity to observe the child(ren) and spend time with the foster parents.
A Foster Care Support Worker will always be available at any time when special concerns are identified. In home consultations occur minimally once per month. Support Workers will return calls at least by the next business day.
Crisis Support Line
Pathways provides support to their foster parents on a 24 hour, 365 days per year basis. After regular business hours, the crisis/ emergency support line is staffed by a qualified Foster Care Support Worker who will answer any urgent questions and, in a crisis, provide support and work through any problems with the foster parents.
Pathways offers Support Meetings minimally once per month. Support Meetings are available in either “small group” format that allows foster parents to support one another, or a professional speaker is available for a presentation and discussion.
Training is crucial to a foster parent’s success. After “Core” Training is completed, foster parents are required to complete 9 to 12 hours of yearly training. Workshops are presented by specialists in behavior management, children’s disorders, community supports and a variety of areas of interest. Topics are varied, and training sites are available throughout the city through our partnerships and linked agencies. Specialized training is provided in cultural sensitivity, first aide, suicide intervention, anger de-escalation and non-abusive restraint. Other topics are offered as need and opportunity arises.
Foster parents are paid stipend to provide for the maintenance of the children in their homes. These funds cover such items as food, clothing, recreational/craft supplies, gifts, baby-sitting, etc. Pathways offers remuneration of approximately $1,100 per month per child. This is an average value but can vary based on the age of the child. The agency also pays for all renewals, such as Security Clearances, First Aid, Suicide Intervention and Aboriginal Awareness training. Families are compensated for their kilometres and babysitting costs while attending Regional sponsored training. Additional respite is available when the family requires it, but the stipend would be transferred to the respite family. Families who receive children that are scored higher than their skill level may qualify for additional paid respite.
Extended family members provide a “natural” relief system for a family that is consistent and friendly. We encourage this option if suitable family members are available. Extended family members are supported with workshop options that can add to their behavior management techniques.
Other Foster Homes
Foster parents within our agency can be accessed for respite. Foster families with similar life styles and parenting techniques are matched, and respite may be shared between the two (or more) families.
Respite homes may also be available. Respite foster homes are “regular” foster parents that prefer to take in children only on a very short-term basis. These families receive all the typical training and support that “regular” foster parent do. Some foster families prefer to do only respite, while other families choose to take a "break" from fostering and only take respite placements for a period of time.