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What is foster care?

Foster parents and their families provide a stable and supportive home environment for children who are in need of a safe, temporary place to live. Some families cannot provide long term care for their children. Some parents cannot adequately care for their children and some homes are not safe for children to return to.

Many children come into the care of a Children’s Aid Society on temporary basis and are able to return home to their family once the stress at home has been alleviated. But some children must remain in care for longer, some permanently. These children and youth need permanent foster care or an adoption placement.

Who are foster parents?

Foster parents are individuals or couples with a genuine interest in children and a sense of community responsibility. They come from all walks of life, have a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds and a variety of experiences with child care.

Some have experience raising their own children, or have professional experience related to child rearing. Some do not have any formal qualifications.

A basic understanding of the needs of children and/or youth, and a willingness to learn, is required. Love of young people, optimism, tolerance, patience and consistency are essential to the successful foster family.

Foster parents work together with Children’s Aid Society staff to develop a plan for each child in care. The ideal plan is usually to reunite a young person with his or her family. When a reunion is not possible, the plan may include adoption or long-term foster care.

While the legal responsibility for the young person remains with the Children’s Aid Society, foster families play an essential role in the child’s daily life. The stable and caring home environment that foster families provide helps encourage healthy growth and development.

What is the difference between foster care and adoption?

Foster care is temporary; foster parents do not assume legal guardianship of the child and usually a child residing in a foster home will continue to have visits with members of the natural family. Where possible, the intention in fostering is to re-unite the child with his or her natural family. Adoption, on the other hand, is a permanent arrangement; parents assume legal guardianship of the child and there is no contact with the natural family.

I am interested in Fostering, but where do I start?

Begin by contacting your local Children’s Aid Society or Family and Children Services.

Don’t know the address? Click here for a complete listing of all Children’s Aid Societies across Ontario.