FOSTER FAMILIES CHANGE LIVES

The importance of foster parents to the child welfare system cannot be overstated. Children who come into care need loving, caring family homes where they can find support, nurturing and stability. Foster parents come from a wide variety of family compositions, cultures and have different life experiences. What is important is that they are prepared to make a commitment to care for children, whether it be short or long term.

BECOMING A FOSTER PARENT

If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, you can begin with a phone call to your local General Authority agency. A foster care worker will explain the application process to you and discuss whether this would be the right move for you.

PROSPECTIVE AND CURRENT FOSTER PARENTS

If you interested in foster parenting and want to know more or are a current foster parent and want information on standards, support, or your rights as a foster parent, please follow the links below.

Adults who are interested in becoming foster parents in Manitoba should be aware of both their rights and their responsibilities, in order to ensure that the highest quality of care is provided.

FOSTER PARENT RESPONSIBILITIES INCLUDE:

  • Providing care and supervision to meet the child’s needs and to co-operate with the agency and other community resources in achieving the objectives
  • To respect the confidentiality of information concerning the child and his/her biological family
  • To accept and support the biological parents of the child and to assist and co-operate in visits between the child and his/her family
  • To share with the agency all information about the child’s progress or difficulties in his/her daily living, health or adjustment to the home, school or community
  • To encourage and supervise school attendance, participate in teacher conferences, and keep the child’s caseworker updated regarding any special educational needs
  • To attend to the regular and/or special medical, optical and dental needs of the foster child
  • To encourage and promote the child’s participation/involvement in his/her religious/spiritual and cultural beliefs

FOSTER PARENT RIGHTS INCLUDE:

  • A clear understanding of their role as foster parents with respect to the agency for whom they foster, individual child placed in their home, and tasks the agency expects them to perform with biological family/guardians and other persons significant to the child
  • Make the decision as to whom to parent, in consultation with the placing agency
  • Appeal a termination or suspension of their foster home licence
  • Access to information about themselves and their family from the records maintained by an agency, regarding their foster home
  • Supervision and support from the child’s caseworker and the foster home worker so that the foster family can better meet the needs of the foster child
  • Access to courses as identified by the foster parent and agency, that are necessary for their work with the children who have been placed with them
  • To state complaints and grievances against agency practices or procedures with regard to a child in their care, or the service they receive

If you are a foster parent who has concerns, complaints, or disagreements with a Child and Family Services agency, you are encouraged to raise those concerns with the CFS worker. If you and your CFS worker can’t sort it out, ask to speak to the CFS supervisor. It has been our experience that most matters are usually resolved at this point. However, if you, your CFS worker, and the supervisor can’t resolve the problem, and you are still not satisfied that the issue has been dealt with, you may contact the manager who oversees the supervisor involved. The final step within the agency structure would be to contact the agency director. If you have used all avenues within the agency structure, you may then contact the General Authority at generalauthority@gov.mb.ca or (204) 984-9360, or 1-866-803-2814.

Foster parents who have concerns or who wish to make appeals may find comprehensive information in the Child and Family Services Standards Manual.

Concerns may fall into the following categories:

  • Complaints about and by foster parents – found under the Resource Management heading, Summarized in the CFS Standards Manual – Volume 1: Agency Standards, Chapter 5: Foster Care, Section 1: Resource Management under the heading Complaints Relating to Foster Homes
  • Licensing appeals – found under the Licensing and Licensing Appeals heading, Volume 1: Agency Standards, Chapter 5: Foster Homes, Section 2: Licensing and Licensing Appeals
  • Removal of a foster child appeals – found under the Removing Foster Children heading. Volume 1: Agency Standards, Chapter 5: Foster Homes, Section 6: Removing Foster Children

Other sources of information include the Manitoba government’s Foster Care page and the Manitoba Foster Family Network.

WHAT IS THE S.A.F.E. HOMESTUDY?

The introduction of a child into a family, especially a special needs child, can place burdens and experiences on families, some of which they have never encountered. To assess a family’s strengths and resources and their likely capability to cope with and integrate these challenges is the key to good home study practice and the successful placement of children.

Under Manitoba legislation, mandated child and family services agencies are responsible to assess foster care and adoptive applicants to determine their suitability, capacity and willingness to provide care to children who are in care of the agency.

While there were homestudy templates in the past, the way in which individual workers gathered the information and reported it was varied. As a result, some homestudies provided a lot of description, but little assessment. This method also allowed for worker bias, which meant that two workers could produce two very different assessments on the same family.

In the spring of 2009, acting on the recommendation of an inter-agency staff committee, the Director’s Leadership Table of the General Authority endorsed the S.A.F.E. (Structured Analysis Family Evaluation) tool to assist workers in assessing prospective foster and adoptive families. S.A.F.E. is a strength-based approach, while recognizing that the paramount duty of the agency is to protect the best interest of the child. It is also sensitive to the family’s expectations for open, transparent and fair treatment. It was developed by the Consortium for Children in California and is widely recognized and supported through research as a leading practice approach, with a number of jurisdictions throughout the United States and Canada now using S.A.F.E. When fully implemented, evaluations have proven that the following benefits can be expected:

  • Increased uniformity and consistency across the service system in identifying and thoroughly exploring critical issues in the homestudy assessment.
  • An analysis of family functioning that recognizes family strengths and addresses issues of concern.
  • A clear, objective identification of specific family strengths, issues of concern and needed changes. Because judgments are quantified, change is easy to measure over time.
  • The use of research-based information gathering tools that minimize bias and provide an objective analysis of factors relevant to parental suitability.
  • Homestudies that are complete and contain information relevant to good placement decision-making.

WHAT CAN I EXPECT DURING A HOMESTUDY?

Because the General Authority’s agencies and service regions use the S.A.F.E. process of evaluation, prospective foster parents can expect:

  • An introduction to child welfare.
  • A thorough assessment of your abilities as a parent.

You will be assigned a foster care worker who will work with you through this process. Contact the agency in your region for more information.

FAQ: Foster Parents

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Resources for Foster Parents

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