What is Foster Care?
Foster care means caring for children or youth who are unable to live with their birth families. Becoming a foster caregiver means opening your home to a child who needs one and providing stability, nurturing and a safe, caring environment during a difficult period. There are different kinds of foster care in Nova Scotia. Each requires different skills and commitments, but what they all have in common is when you decide to be there for a child or youth in need, you provide them with new opportunities to grow into a strong, confident person.
5 CATEGORIES OF FOSTER CARE IN NOVA SCOTIA
- Full Time foster caregivers look after the majority of children who need care. This category looks after children who do not require specialized care.
- Emergency foster caregivers are available to take children on short notice and provide care and support until a longer-term arrangement can be made. You could receive calls any time of the day or night and would need to care for children of all ages.
- Part Time respite foster caregivers take children for short periods of time (like a weekend) when the other foster caregivers need some relief for various reasons.
- Specialized foster caregivers work with children who have challenging emotional, behavioural or medical needs. Specialized training is provided.
- Kinship foster caregivers care for children who are previously known to them. These families are relatives, neighbors or close friends of the family.
Who can Foster?
Foster caregivers are as diverse as the children they foster.
A lot of people assume they’re not qualified. “I’m too old”, “I’m not married”, “I have no experience as a caregiver” are common thoughts that hold people back. The reality is, when it comes to foster caregiver qualifications, your personal qualities-patience, caring, positivity and willingness to work as part of a team-are what matter most. Of course, there are a few basic requirements. You must be 19 or older, a resident of Nova Scotia and willing to participate in training and an assessment. Beyond that, here’s what you need to know. We need foster caregivers from all walks of life-men and women or same sex couples, single and married, homeowners and renters, young families and empty nesters, who come from many cultural, racial and religious backgrounds. And although previous caregiver experience is always helpful, it’s not a mandatory requirement to becoming a foster caregiver.
You have a lot to offer a child. If you’d like to find out more, give us a call at 1-800-565-1884 or register for a foster caregiver information session in your area.
What do Foster Children need?
Foster children need what all children need. They need stability and routine, attention, nurturing and a safe, loving home. Whether it’s regular mealtimes, getting them ready for school, helping with homework or encouraging them to make friends, learn and have fun, they need a trusted, caring adult like you to be there for them. When you open your home to a child in your community, you help them stay in their home community, in their school, with their friends and so much more.
How Foster Families support children:
- providing a nurturing, protective environment
- meeting their developmental needs
- supporting relationships between children and their birth families
- connecting children to safe, nurturing relationships
- being part of a professional team
What are Foster Children like?
One of the most important things to know is that children and youths may require foster care for a variety of reasons. But whatever the reason, these children need love and care. And while their family situation may be complicated, in most ways they are like every other child. They need stability, security, confidence, support, encouragement and guidance. They aren’t perfect, and they can be emotional or stubborn at times. It’s called being a child, not a foster child. That’s not to say foster children don’t need special attention at times. They’ve experienced a lot, and as a child that’s hard to process. We’re here to help foster caregivers with the training and support needed to give foster children the comfort and confidence they need to just be a child.
MORE THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT FOSTER CHILDREN:
- They’re not all teens. Ages range from newborns to tweens and teenagers.
- Most children want to be reunited with their birth families. Foster caregivers are an important part of that process.
- Foster children in Nova Scotia have diverse cultural backgrounds from Indigenous to African Nova Scotian. We need foster caregivers with similar backgrounds.
- Foster children who find a foster family in their home communities get to stay where they are most familiar and comfortable.
- You can be there for more than one child. Siblings in foster care need caring homes where they can stay together.
- Foster caregivers give love and care. But they often receive just as much back from the children.
How do I get started?
You have already taken an important first step by visiting our website and learning more about foster care. Choosing to become a foster caregiver is a big decision and we’re more than happy to help you make it. Here are the next steps in the foster caregiving process:
- Call 1-800-565-1884 with any additional questions you might have.
- A social worker will contact you to answer your questions and invite you to a foster care information session in your area. You can also register directly via our website.
- If you choose to proceed after the information session, you’ll complete your paperwork including a police check, Child Abuse Registry check, references etc.
- You’ll be invited to PRIDE pre-service-a nine session training program to prepare you for becoming a foster caregiver.
- After PRIDE pre-service, a social worker will contact you to start your foster care assessment.
- After completing the pre-service training, a social worker will contact you to start the assessment and approval process. During this phase, we’ll work with you to determine what type of foster caregiver and kind of child are the best match for you.
Our goal is to provide the help and support to make sure you’re paired with the right child and the placement is rewarding for everyone. The assessment process in not just about being evaluated by foster care; it’s also about self-evaluation and reflection to ensure your expectations are realistic and you fully understand the commitment you are making.
For more information on becoming a foster caregiver call the Department of Community Services at 1-800-565-1884.