Information for Foster Parents
Becoming a Foster Parent
On any given day, more than 75 per cent of the children and youth receiving services from a General Authority agency are at home living with their parent or guardian. When we work with families, the highest priority is always for children to be safe, thriving and growing up with their families. There are times however, when, for reasons of safety, children do come into care and will need to live outside of the parental home with a caregiver. This is where foster parents play such a vital role in the lives of children and youth.
Fosters parents are asked to open up their home and provide care to meet all of the child or youth’s day-to-day needs (physical, cultural, educational, spiritual, recreational, emotional and physical health). With the agency, the biological parents and the family’s support network, foster parents become part of a team that will implement a care plan for the child’s current and future needs.
The CFS agency will guide you through the entire licensing process, and you can expect to be treated with respect and sensitivity.
When a child does come into care, the agency’s highest priority is always to explore the possibility of reunifying that child with their parents or guardian. Foster parents play a crucial role in supporting the reunification process.
In Manitoba, any adult who is prepared to make a commitment to care for children, can apply to become a foster parent. To become a foster parent, the adult(s) must apply for a licence from a child and family services agency. The licensing process is described below. All of these activities must be completed in order for an agency to make a decision on whether to issue a licence.
Relationship with the Agency
Open and regular communication is critical to establish and nurture a healthy and positive relationship between you and the agency as you work together in the best interests of the children in your care.
As a foster parent, you can expect to have regular contact from a staff person employed by the agency that has approved your licence. The purpose of this ongoing contact is to support you to meet the needs of the children in your care.
During these conversations, you can expect to engage in discussions about:• Your strengths as a caregiver.
• Supports, resources and training that may help you to respond to the needs of the children in your care.
• Your role as a member of a multidisciplinary team and a key participant in the network that is there to support the child.
• The child’s progress since the last contact with the worker.
• Challenges that you have experienced since the last contact.
• Any worries you might have about the case plan or how the child is progressing.
• The child’s connection to a particular cultural community.
• Ideas you have about how best to support the children in your care.
• Discussions you have had with the child’s birth parents or guardians.
• Plans to reunify the children with their parents or guardians.
• Your role in the case plan going forward.
Conversations with the agency staff person may occur over the phone, virtually or in person. The key is that these occur regularly.
You will be required to approach a CFS agency and request an invitation to a foster parent orientation. Have a look to find the GA agency that serves your area.
You will also need to complete the provincial foster home licensing form. In order to do this, The Foster Homes Licensing Regulation requires that the following documents be included:
- A completed criminal record and child abuse registry check for you and every other adult living in your household dated within three months of the application date.
- An application for a prior contact check which will allow an agency to determine if you or any other adult member of your household has had previous involvement with child and family services.
- References from four individuals related to your ability to protect, nurture and care for children. Two should be from non-family members.
- A consent form that allows the agency to contact a medical professional who will be asked if there are health-related matters that could affect your ability to be a foster parent.
Another activity that will be done is the physical inspection of your home. This ensures that your home meets the safety standards set out in the Regulation such as: the use of bedrooms, storage space, presence of fire prevention equipment and emergency response procedures.
Foster Home Study
For over ten years, General Authority agencies have been using what is known as the “SAFE” assessment model to complete the home study.
- SAFE stands for Structured Analysis Family Evaluation.
- SAFE (safehomestudy.org) is recognized as a leading practice for completing home studies and is widely used across Canada and other jurisdictions. All agency workers who use SAFE have received extensive training in how to do the assessment.
- Questionnaires and interviews with a SAFE-trained social worker will help establish the strengths your family brings to fostering and identify supports that may be needed.
- You will have the opportunity to review the written results of this assessment prior to it being finalized.
Under The Child and Family Services Act, the following decisions can be appealed:
- the decision to deny a licence – Section 8(2)
- the decision to suspend/not renew a licence – Section 8(2)
- the decision to remove a child (see two subsections: ) 51(3), appeal to agency director and 51(4), appeal to Authority.
For further information, please see The Child and Family Services Act.