Hamilton, ON – It is no coincidence that Foster Family Week (October 15-21, 2019) falls within October’s Child Abuse Prevention Month, as foster families play a vital role in the community and the child welfare system.
Today, most of the work of The Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton, close to 90 percent, involves working with families without bringing children into the agency’s care. However, when this is not possible, the Society is extremely fortunate to have the support of 150 foster families who, at a moment’s notice, are willing and able to open their homes and hearts to provide a safe, stable and nurturing environment for children and youth at significant risk of harm.
“Foster families have an integral role within our agency as we all work together to support safety, permanency and well-being for children and youth,” says Bryan Shone, Executive Director.
“The Society is committed to service excellence and supporting children being raised safely with their families whenever possible. However, when it is determined that a child is unable to remain in their home or with family due to safety concerns, the agency turns to its tremendous network of foster families.”
The unconditional love and support foster families provide is critical in creating a space where children and youth can heal and thrive while the agency works with families or explores permanency options.
As child welfare practice continues to shift, so has the role of foster parents through the practice of inclusive fostering. Foster families are being encouraged and supported to work more closely with biological families in meeting the needs of children and youth while supporting permanency plans that may include a return to caregivers, placement with kin, custody orders or adoption.
The role of a foster family is certainly not an easy one, and the skills and dedication of our foster parents is highly valued in partnership. Many of the agency’s current foster families saw the positive impact they could have through family members or friends involved in fostering, and thus, decided to open their homes too. Others have grown up with parents or grandparents who foster and it is simply a way of life. One of the agency’s current foster families has been serving the community in this role for an incredible 37 years.
Foster families are a diverse and compassionate community of caregivers who come from all cultural and religious backgrounds but they all share the universal desire to provide a safe, stable and nurturing home for children and youth. The majority of the agency’s foster families decide to foster because they want to make a difference, and they most certainly do. Every single day, foster families are making a positive impact in our community and for that we say, thank you.
There is an ongoing need for foster caregivers with The Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton who can provide children and youth with a stable, supportive and nurturing home until a child or youth is safe and able to return to the community.