Information on Becoming a Foster Parent

Here are some frequently asked questions about about Treatment Foster Care:


What qualities are you looking for in a foster parent?

Foster parents must truly care about children and enjoy being around them. In addition, foster parents must have the skills to effectively raise children, have the space in their home to accommodate a child, and be able to encourage a positive cultural identity. The personality traits of successful foster parents include being flexible, mature and stable. A sense of humor is also a definite asset.

Many children in foster care eventually return to their birth families. For this reason, foster families must recognize the value of the child’s birth family.

As well, foster parents must have the ability to work cooperatively with others in the child’s life, including social service professionals.

While some foster parents have some formal training or experience, all share a commitment to making a positive difference in the life of a young person.

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Is fostering right for me?

Being a foster parent is a rewarding but challenging experience. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to decide if this is right for you:

  • Do I genuinely enjoy caring for children?
  • Can I accept a foster child as a real and equal part of my family?
  • Is my life (relationship/marriage/partnership, children, health, financial situation, etc.) stable enough at the present time to accommodate caring for a child?
  • Am I flexible and open to change? Can I deal with “unknowns”?
  • Do I have room in my home to accommodate a foster child who will require his or her own room?
  • Do I have the time to meet with social service professionals, take part in training and school meetings, attend medical appointments and therapist sessions, etc. as part of my foster child’s treatment plan?
  • Am I open to receiving support from social service professionals in my life, even if we may have differing views from time to time?
  • Are there others in my life that will support my role as a foster parent and would help me occasionally when I need a break from parenting?
  • Will my family, friends and community welcome a foster child into our social network?
  • Am I willing to do what it takes to support my foster child’s connection with his or her birth family, whenever possible?
  • Would I be comfortable caring for a child with a different cultural background from my own? Am I willing to receive training and take an active interest in my foster child’s cultural background?
  • How will my family and I cope if my foster child is taken from my home to live elsewhere?
  • Am I open to having one of the most rewarding yet potentially challenging experiences of my life?

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What exactly is a “Treatment” Foster Parent?

Treatment Foster Parents are part of a professional team dedicated to helping a child overcome difficulties in his or her life.

As a foster parent, you are responsible for the basic duties typically required of all parents, including providing a safe, healthy and caring environment appropriate to the age and needs of the child.

You will also work as an agent of change. That means you will integrate activities from your foster child’s individual treatment plan into your parenting and home environment.  This includes educating yourself about pertinent issues you will face; acting as an appropriate role model; encouraging and rewarding positive behavior from the child (and using appropriate discipline); discussing difficult experiences, behaviors, and feelings with your foster child; and other activities.

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How do I become a foster parent?

The process of becoming a foster parent involves 4 phases: a questionnaire, a telephone inquiry, screening meeting/interview, and a home study and licensing.

Questionnaire

The first step to becoming a foster parent is to complete and submit a questionnaire to Knowles Centre. 

Phone Inquiry

You will be contacted for a phone inquiry following review of your questionnaire.  During the phone inquiry, you will have a preliminary discussion with one of our program staff. This provides an opportunity for you to find out more about the program and for us to find out more about you. Together we can begin to determine if fostering might be right for you.

Screening

Next, arrangements will be made for two program staff to meet with you in your home for one or two screening meetings. If you are a couple, both of you are expected to be present.

The screening meetings are a mutual process in which you and program staff have an opportunity to get to know each other better and ask questions. The meeting takes approximately 1 ½ to 2 hours and involves a more in depth discussion of your background, lifestyle, experience, motivation to foster, etc. As well, we will also provide you with detailed information about our Treatment Foster Care Program and Knowles Centre.

Home study/Licensing

Arrangements are then made to complete a home study. This usually takes four more meetings/interviews. It involves a much more in depth and personal discussion and assessment of your background.

You will be required to submit a criminal records check and consent to a child abuse registry check. We will also check if you or your birth family has ever been involved with a child welfare agency. (Prior involvement with a child welfare agency does not necessarily preclude you from fostering.) You will also be asked to provide references, a physician’s report, and a recent driver’s abstract.

The home study process is intense and somewhat intrusive. However, staff will make all efforts to ensure your comfort during this process. We know that no one is a perfect person or parent. Our goal is to understand you so we can best support you.

Following the home study, you will have an opportunity to review and sign the completed report before it is forwarded to the child welfare agency in your community.

The licensing agency will make the final determination to license you as a foster parent, which allows you to be an exclusive foster parent for Knowles Centre. All the support and consultation you receive as a foster parent will be provided by Knowles Centre.

Every year your foster license is renewed via an annual licensing review completed by you and a Knowles Centre staff member.

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How long does it take to become a foster parent?

It takes approximately three months to complete a foster home study. The time varies depending on timeliness of paperwork being completed, references being submitted, scheduling challenges, etc. 

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How do I become a respite provider?

Treatment Foster Care respite providers are part of a professional team dedicated to helping a child overcome difficulties in his or her life and establish positive relationships outside of the foster home.

The process of becoming a respite provider involves 2 phases:Part 1 (Written application) and Part 2 (Clearance checks and references). All successful applicants will also be required to take the respite training course delivered by Knowles Centre Inc.

Part 1:
Please follow the link and fill out all the requested information. All successfully matched respite applicants will be contacted and part 2 of the application will be completed.

Part 2:
You will be required to submit a criminal records check (for the vulnerable sector) and consent to a child abuse registry check. We will also check if you or your birth family has ever been involved with a child welfare agency (Prior involvement with a child welfare agency does not necessarily preclude you from providing respite). You will also be asked to provide references, and a recent driver’s abstract. All successful applicants who are able to provide overnight respite in their home will also need a physical home check administered by a program staff member.

Click here for a Respite Provider application.   

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What are the children like that are referred to your program?

Like all children, each child needing foster care is unique. They may be outgoing, shy, athletic, artistic or musical, or still exploring their interests in life. What they have in common is that they are unable to live with their birth family for a time. Sometimes, it is because of abuse, physical or mental health issues, addictions, or the family is having difficulty getting along. We know that families love their children and do the best they can, but sometimes are unable to care for their children temporarily or permanently.

The children referred to the program include both boys and girls ranging from infants to 17 years of age. Most children needing care are between 10 and 15 years of age. There are also opportunities to foster moms and their babies as well as older teens that are transitioning to independent living.

The majority of the children referred to the program have specialized emotional and/or behavioral needs. They may have difficulties learning/developmental challenges, school difficulties, acting-out behavior, depression or other psychiatric difficulties or may be struggling with unresolved issues from past relationships.

The children have different cultural roots; however, many of the children have an Aboriginal and/or Métis background. 

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How do children get placed in my home?

Children in the Treatment Foster Care Program are referred to Knowles Centre directly through various Child & Family Services agencies throughout Canada as well as through the Province of Manitoba’s central placement desk.

When a child is referred to Knowles Centre that we believe may fit well into your home, we will contact you. Together, we will review the child’s social history (description of the child’s background, reason for requiring a foster home, problems, strengths, and needs) and any other information that is available.

Next you will meet with other professionals and significant people in the child’s life to discuss his or her profile, issues, needs, strengths, and goals to further determine his or her suitability for your home. This is commonly referred to as an Intake Meeting.

A few pre-placement visits will be arranged for you and the child to become acquainted. The placement date will be jointly set with you, the CFS placing agency and Knowles Centre staff.

A Clinical Case Manager (CCM) from Knowles Centre will serve as your primary contact through the process.  The CCM will act as a liaison between you, the Child & Family Services agency who referred the child, the child’s birth family, and others who are working together in the interests of the child.

Once it has begun, the intake and pre-placement process may be stopped at anytime prior to admission to your home by you or another member of the professional team if the match between the child and you is not well suited.  This is not an indication of your suitability as a foster parent in the future.

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How long do children stay in my home?

Every child has different needs. The proposed length of placement is discussed at the Intake Meeting as well as at regular intervals thereafter. Often, children placed in the Treatment Foster Care Program need care until they reach the age of majority. Sometimes, however, a child may stay for a longer or shorter time than originally planned for different reasons. 

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What are some of the rewards of fostering?

  • Knowing you have made a difference in a child’s life.
  • Developing and using your skills as a professional parent.
  • Starting, continuing or resuming parenting.
  • Being part of a great team of people.
  • Receiving training that can benefit your ability to care for other children, including birth, foster, and other children and youth in your life.
  • Working from home and being available to other children in your home.
  • Seeing children smile, hearing them laugh.
  • Assisting children to manage some of their problems better.
  • Helping children to overcome some of their challenges.
  • Seeing a child reach a milestone.
  • Supporting positive contact with birth family.

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What are some of the biggest difficulties fostering?

  • Saying good-bye to a child you have helped raise and come to love.
  • Dealing with some of the difficult behaviors.
  • Witnessing children being disappointed by their birth families.
  • Navigating bureaucratic systems such as child welfare, criminal justice, and education.
  • Feeling like you live in a fish bowl because your life and activities are open to questions from social service professionals. 

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Do foster children see their birth family? Am I expected to be involved with children’s birth family?

Each situation is unique; however, the amount and kind of contact between children and birth family is decided by the agency worker who placed the child in foster care. Input from Knowles Centre and the foster family is valued and may be discussed at the Intake Meeting as well as at regular intervals thereafter.

The family suite located at Knowles Centre can be used as a meeting place for children and their birth families for visits of a few hours or a few days.  A member of the Treatment Foster Care program team will assist the foster child and his or her family to arrange access to this suite.

You may be asked to support the child’s contact with members of their birth family, when appropriate. It can be valuable for a child to see his or her birth family and foster family have a cooperative relationship.

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What type of support can I expect from Knowles?

Knowles Centre prides itself on providing a high level of support and training so foster parents can effectively carry out their role.

Initially, Knowles Centre provides 30 hours of pre-service training for new foster parents whenever possible and monthly training thereafter.

Each foster family is paired with a Clinical Case Manager (CCM) from Knowles Centre to assist them in their role as foster parents. The CCM carries a small caseload so that foster families can expect a high level of support and consultation.

Once a child is placed in your home, you can expect weekly support from the CCM for the first four to six weeks, depending on your needs. After that, you can expect twice-monthly support and consultation.

The CCM may also attend major school meetings, intakes with a therapist, meetings with a psychiatrist, etc.

You will be part of the Treatment/Review Conferences that are held every 90 days to review the child’s functioning and the previously set goals and to continue, revise and/or develop new goals. Foster parents, the CCM, CFS agency worker, birth family, school staff, therapist, and sometimes the child, take part in this conference.

Foster parents and children may access other services and programs offered by Knowles Centre including the First Nations Cultural Program, the Sexual Abuse Treatment Program, the Family Suite, the Community Outreach Worker, psychiatric consultation, and the camp grounds in the Whiteshell Provincial Park.

Support is never far away. You can reach a Treatment Foster Care team member 24-hours a day (including after-hours, weekends and holidays) by calling our emergency telephone number. 

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How do I get in touch with a Treatment Foster Care Program staff in an emergency?

At least one member of the Treatment Foster Care Program team is available weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. But we recognize that emergencies don’t always occur during regular office hours. Knowles Centre provides after hours emergency service that foster parents may access after regular hours, week-ends and holidays.

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What type of financial compensation can I expect?

Foster parents receive funding according to the basic maintenance rate set by the Province of Manitoba to cover the costs of food, transportation, clothing, personal allowance, activities, bedding, special occasions, etc. for the child.

Knowles Centre pays foster parents an additional service provider rate to compensate them for their work as professional parents.

Foster parents also receive funding to cover respite care (help from another qualified person to provide child care so that you can have a break from parenting). Approximately 20 hours per week of respite per child is available.

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