Frequently Asked Questions
People interested in fostering have many questions about what it means to provide care for children in need. In addition to the reading the questions and answers below, please contact a ministry resource social worker in your area (link to contacts) for further helpful information.
Do I have a choice about who I foster?
Yes. You can specify the age and gender of a child who will ‘fit in’ best with your family. And you are always involved in deciding which child will live in your home. The child, especially a youth, also needs to be involved in the decision.
Whenever possible the child or youth’s worker will arrange a pre-placement visit so both you and the child or youth will have the opportunity to get to know each other. Although, there will be circumstances where a pre-placement visit is not possible.
Do all foster parents provide the same kind of care?
No. Children’s needs range from reasonably straightforward to very complex. They need a range of foster parents with various levels of training, skills and experience.
Restricted/relative foster families provide for children they know or who are related to the foster family.
Regular foster families provide for children of varying ages and needs who are usuallly not known or related to the foster family.
Specialized foster families receive children with difficult to manage mental or physical disabilities, or emotional or behaviour problems. Specialized foster families are designated as Level 1, 2 or 3, depending on the foster parents’ education, experience, knowledge, skills and abilities. Specialized caregivers are recognized as ‘professional parents’ and are compensated for their ability to respond to a child’s individual needs.
Respite foster families take children for short periods, so the parents or foster parents can have a few days without the children.
How much are foster parents paid?
Foster care is not employment. Families choose to foster because of a concern for children and desire to contribute something special to their community. There is a monthly maintenance payment to foster parents to cover the direct costs of caring for a child. However, foster parents are not expected to give up employment. There is also a service payment available for the three levels of specialized foster care. The service payment recognizes the primary foster parent’s special parenting skill and extra time required to meet the needs of a child, but is not considered to be employment income.
Rates vary with the type of care provided. Please refer to Levels of Care and Monthly Rates pages.
Can I foster more than one child?
This may be a possibility. The ministry tries to have no more than six children in a foster home at any given time. This includes the foster parents’ own children, but exceptions are made from time to time.
Foster families may be asked to look after two, three, or sometimes even more siblings. Every effort is made to place brothers and sisters in the same foster home. Keeping them together provides familiarity and stability. When brothers and sisters are kept together, their feelings about separation from their parents may not be obvious. As a foster parent, you must be aware that siblings may be more comfortable sharing feelings with each other than with you.
As a result it may be difficult to get to know each child individually. It may also be difficult to assess each child’s needs because of their relationship with each other.
Often, children will already have established specific roles and relationships with each other. For example, the oldest child may assume some of the parent role and carry more of the burden of separation than the other children. Younger children may let the older ones do their talking for them. It is important for you to remember that each child has specific needs. Try to get to know each one individually.
How long will a child stay with me?
The stay will vary with the circumstances. Every effort is made to have children who are in care return to their families as soon as possible. When this in not possible, arrangements are made for an alternate permanent living arrangement. Sometimes children do not return home and are not adopted, particularly youths. So although foster placements are usually temporary, you may be asked to continue to foster a youth to independence. This is a significant responsibility and requires a special commitment.
What happens when there is a disagreement between foster parents and the ministry?
From time to time a foster parent and ministry worker may disagree about the needs of a child. To handle disagreements quickly and fairly each region has developed a protocol or procedure that must be followed. In some regions, BCFFPA or a foster parent support agency volunteer, known as foster parent support workers, are available to work with families to help resolve any difficulties that may arise.
Could I ever adopt a child place in my home?
If adoption becomes the plan for the child, you will be advised and consulted. If you are interested in adopting a child placed in your home, you may be considered along with other homes approved by the ministry. The strength of your relationship with the child is one of the many factors that would be considered. The placement decision is based upon the needs of the child, including his/her ethnic/cultural heritage. For more information about adoption, click here.