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Local foster families recognized

Article from Simcoe Reformer, October 17, 2019:

Diana and Ivan VanderDeen were recognized for their 20 years of fostering at the Children’s Aid Society of Haldimand and Norfolk awards event on Wednesday evening. (ASHLEY TAYLOR/SIMCOE REFORMER)

 

Local foster and kinship families were recognized at a dinner and awards ceremony on Wednesday evening.

The Children’s Aid Society of Haldimand and Norfolk invited the caregivers to the Jarvis Community Centre to show appreciation for the work they do all year.

Jennifer Mels, foster care supervisor, said the night was a time to reflect and focus on the positives.

“The positives are what drive people forward and we really hope they remember them,” said Mels.

Diana and Ivan VanderDeen were recognized for their more than 20 years of being foster parents.

The couple, married for 41 years, have seven children of their own.

“For us, it was just an opportunity to help,” said Diana. “Our daughters came home with kids that were having troubles at home and it didn’t feel right to tell them someone else should help them.”

The most foster children the family had at one time was four.

Ivan noted that if everyone made a positive difference in someone else’s life it would change the world.

“It’s one of the most challenging things you can ever do, but it’s also one of the best experiences we’ve ever had,” he said.

While the VanderDeens have finished fostering, their biggest highlight happened a week ago. One of the girls they used to foster visited them with her partner and three children. She thanked the couple for everything they did for her, and credited them for her still being alive.

Both Ivan and Diana agreed that the hardest part of fostering is watching the kids leave.

“We fostered mostly teenaged girls, so when they got to 16 or 18 they figure they’re old enough to go out on their own,” said Diana. “It really tugged on our hearts to watch them leave but we learned a long time ago that if you try to keep them when they don’t want to be there it works the opposite.”

Laurie Toth, the VanderDeen’s support worker with CAS, said they went above and beyond while they were caring for foster children.

“They aren’t known as Diana and Ivan, they are called Mom and Dad,” said Toth. “I would say that this was their calling, they had seven kids of their own and their house was always full. They took in mostly teenaged girls and went with it in stride, it takes special people to do that.”

“We’ve always had the philosophy that if you come into our house, you’re one of our kids,” said Ivan.

This philosophy means that the couple have stayed in contact with a large number of children they have welcomed into their home.

In Haldimand and Norfolk, there are currently 89 approved foster and kinship families. There is a need for foster families of all different age groups, cultures, and lifestyles.

There is an information night in November for anyone considering fostering, adoption, or kincare. More information on that event is available on the Children’s Aid Society website.

astaylor@postmedia.com


Kinship Service

Family Finding
When children cannot be cared for by their parents or guardians, the next best placement for them is within their extended family or their community network. The Society seeks extended family (kin) or members of the child’s community to provide safe, nurturing, alternate living arrangements for children and young people at risk of neglect or abuse.  This reduces stress for children coming into care, maintains family and community ties and increases the likelihood of the child’s reunification with his/her primary family.

Kinship Service
Kinship service is support provided for children not in CAS care, but who are living with kin as they are unable to remain with their family due to protection concerns. If you believe there is a situation where you could help as a kinship caregiver, please contact the Society. A screening process will be completed to assess your home environment and whether you and those you live with can provide care and a safe home environment for a child experiencing difficulty at home.

Kinship Care
Kinship care is provided for children who are in the care of the Society and are placed with a member of their extended family or community member who may have a significant relationship with the child. These families are assessed the same as foster or adoptive caregiver applicants and are required to successfully complete a Home Study process, as well as attend training.  Kinship care families receive ongoing agency support to assist them in caring for the child.

Customary Care
Customary care is part of the continuum of care options for Aboriginal children.  It incorporates the unique traditions and customs of each First Nation.  It is a traditional method of caring for children, premised on the belief that a child is a sacred gift from the Creator and as such is the collective responsibility of the community.  Customary Care Agreements are used when protections concerns in a family require out-of-home placement.


Foster Care Services

The CAS works very hard to help children remain in their families; however, when they cannot remain at home because of serious concerns about their safety and protection, they come into care. When placement with a member of the immediate or extended family or a member of the community is not possible, foster care is the best alternative.

There is always a need for more foster homes. Foster parents provide stability and a caring home that encourages a child or youth’s development.  They work with staff as part of a team.  They may provide care for just a few days, a week, several months or possibly years.

Foster parents come from all walks of life and a variety of backgrounds.  They may be young couples raising children of their own, experienced parents with grown children, or single people with or without training in child care or related professions.  All have a genuine interest in children, a sense of community responsibility and enjoy the challenge presented by fostering.

The Society provides initial orientation and ongoing training, regular visits and support, access to other therapeutic services a child may require, and daily non-taxable reimbursement for the child’s living expenses and supplementary needs.

If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, please call the CAS-HN for more information or find out more about the process, evaluation and training required to become a foster parent.

Please join us in realizing our vision: “A community that nurtures the lives and dreams of children”

Foster to Adopt

Fostering a child with a view to adopt is another way to provide a permanent home for a child. Please contact the CAS for more information.


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