DUNNVILLE—Ruth Anderson received her gift basket from the Children’s Aid Society of Haldimand and Norfolk for Caregiver Appreciation Week. —Submitted photo.
Expect the unexpected.
That’s the advice long-time foster parent Ruth Anderson would give herself if she could go back 40 years.
“We didn’t have a clue, we thought you just bring kids into your home, but there’s so many other scenarios to this,” she said. “It’s not just daily care, it’s medical care, it’s working with biological families, it’s an adventure.”
Anderson and her late husband, Jim, were approved as foster parents in June 1980. The couple had two biological children of their own before beginning this journey. Since being approved, 69 children have been through the Anderson household in Dunnville on a full-time basis, and another 14 on a relief basis.
“We just thought we’d do it for awhile, until our kids were grown up, and it has gone beyond that,” Anderson said about hitting her 40-year mark.
After Jim passed in 1995, Ruth decided to continue fostering on her own, and plans to do so for the foreseeable future.
Ruth was one of several people honoured as part of Caregiver Appreciation Week.
The third week of October is celebrated annually by the Children’s Aid Society of Haldimand Norfolk with a dinner event. This year, in lieu of the annual dinner event, gift baskets were delivered to the caregiver families.
The children that spent time with Jim and Ruth have been from all different age ranges, and with different behavioural, emotional, and medical needs.
Anderson explained that today there is more training and preparation for foster and kin families than there was 40 years ago. She added that those considering fostering need to think about it for a long time, it can’t be a decision made on a whim.
During a phone interview with the Reformer, Anderson expressed pride in watching the children that have gone through her home become adults.
“One of the girls we had, they gave up on her and she has turned out to be a fabulous mom,” she said. “There is hope. Now she’s raising three kids of her own and doing a great job.”
CAS staff are thankful for all of the caregivers.
“In normal years it is important to acknowledge how important it is for families to open up their homes and their families to children and youth who need this,” said Jennifer Mels, foster care supervisor at CAS-HN. “This year in particular has been so challenging for caregivers. It is essential that we have people to care for the community’s children when for whatever reason, they (parents) are unable to. Add the layer of the pandemic, and this year they are our small town heroes for sure.
“I am so honoured to be part of this and very proud of our Haldimand Norfolk foster and kin caregivers for all that they have done always and this year in particular.”
There are 80 approved kin and foster homes across Haldimand and Norfolk. CAS is always accepting applications for new homes. Visit www.cashn.on.ca for more information.