The Hub October 2016 - Page 26

knows that there is an adult in their life that thinks they are a star regardless of the situation, then they know that the person is going to be there for them. I think that's what a kid needs.” Once the initial contact and conversation has been started, people can move to the next step in starting the fostering process. Rocheleau said the first step at CAS is making contact with a recruitment officers, where parents can express their initial interests and share some information about themselves. From there she and others would do an initial home inspection to make sure that ministry standards would be met. They would also assess what they could offer within the home for a child. This leads to more detailed conversations and eventually a mandatory nine week training program. “This program runs one night a week for three hours, and that really helps possible foster parents to understand how the agency functions, the type of children that come into our homes, the family situations that they are coming from. This can make the possible parents feel a little more prepared for the first placement they are going to receive.” It's easy to imagine that being a foster parent requires a certain set of skills or attitudes. Patience, commitment, flexibility, a sense of humour or adventure, and a desire to build a unique family are sure to be valuable. But it really comes down to matching the unique needs of a particular child or children with what a potential foster parent has to offer. All foster agencies work to know the families well and to understand where their strengths lie. Clearances and references are also required. After this they can proceed with beginning the placement process. “What we strive to do is match the appropriate family with the appropriate child…We want to make sure it's going to be a good positive match,” says Rocheleau. “We don’t want to have to see kids move from one placement to another, to another, so a lot of thought goes into matching that child with the right family.” After placement, a variety of supports may be available for the foster child, parents and other family members, depending on the situation. This may include counselling, respite care, financial support or other services. In the end, it can be a life changing event for child and parents, no matter the environment. “You are a real part of the family,” says Ryan. “It's not like it’s portrayed on television where there are the biological kids and the foster kids. There is no line where the foster family and the biological family begins. That's what makes it special.”