Foster parents come from all walks of life. Their experiences caring for young people are diverse and full of ups and downs.
Foster care was a great choice for Andrea and Donna. As an LGBTQ family, they were frustrated with the many false starts with the adoption process. Becoming foster parents, they were able to care for many children and adopted Sarah.
Sarah came to them from a deeply traumatic background and had many issues around trust and attachment. The safe, understanding and loving environment Andrea and Donna provide was essential to the progress Sarah has made.
A few years before deciding to become a foster parent, Michael lost his wife to an automobile accident. He wanted to be a parent but finding another partner was difficult. Michael has been a wonderful foster dad and takes his foster children everywhere.
The key to Michael's success in foster parenting has been to keep the kids busy with indoor and outdoor activities and always listening and understanding.
In 2013, David came into care from several failed foster care placements and it seemed that his only option was to live in a group home. His difficulty with authority and poor academics posed problems for his caregivers. Luckily, one last family was willing to take a chance.
After some intensive supports were put in place, David began to take initiative at school and his outbursts at home became few and far between. Today, David is attending Centennial College for small engine repair.
No young person coming into care presents with the same challenges. Safe Harbours offers flexible programming options to meet their needs.
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Foster parents don't earn a typical income. They are given a set amount of money per day for each child they care for, called a "per diem". From the per diem, foster parents must buy food, clothing, miscellaneous daily care items, reasonably costed recreational/arts programs, etc. For more detail on what items are part of the per diem and which are covered by other means, visit our in-depth FAQ page.
Across Ontario, the typical per diem ranges from $45 - $70 with some slightly higher or lower. Safe Harbours' per diem ranges from $85 - $110 depending on experience and the program that the youth is utilizing. Our per diem is on the high end due to the fact the our youth can be much more challenging than typical foster care.
All of our programs come with clinical support hours. If those are no longer needed, they can be used for extra respite ("time off") or more support hours from a Child and Youth Worker (CYW) - whichever is more beneficial to the youth and home dynamic. Homes are also assigned a Resource Worker to help keep filing in order, stay compliant with regulations, assist in case management, etc.
Youth in our Trauma and Behavioural programs also have an in-house Clinical Director attached to their file to help guide them to local mental health resources and ensure that Safe Harbours aquiring the best services possible for each youth.
With the exception of the Mainsteam program, there are a set number of hours per month which can be used for one-to-one support from a qualified CYW. CYWs with enough experience can make a tremendous difference in the life of a young person. They can also give valuable tips to foster parents in coping and managing behaviours.
Typically you need one free bedroom with a closet and window on the main sleeping level of the home. However, we prefer homes which have two free bedrooms in the event a second youth matching the home's care profile is referred to Safe Harbours.
Townhomes, semi-detached and detached homes are the only configurations we accept. The area of the home should be approximately 1800 sq. ft. or higher. The property should be clear of hazardous items such as exposed nails, fire hazards, unfenced swimming pools, etc.
Each home should have a common recreational room where everyone can spend time together.
The team at Safe Harbours Family Treatment Homes has been working with foster children for over 20 years. During this time, we have seen a sharp increase in the number of children and youth requiring complex care regarding their mental health needs. Most often, their mental health needs are stemming from severe early childhood traumas.
We took a look at what was currently available for these young people and the options were quite limiting. They would be placed in unprepared foster homes, then moved between several homes, finally ending up in a group home. For a young person to go through this many changes, mostly of no fault of their own, was disheartening.
Our programs were developed between 2013 and 2015 by consulting with various foster and group care agencies. Each agency had a unique aspect of their care program which was working for their youth. Upon careful consideration, the best of those programs were adopted by Safe Harbours, for example, providing a Child and Youth Worker (CYW) to assist our youth with volunteer opportunities.
In 2018, after three years of working with the Government of Ontario, we were approved to a license to recruit homes for the purpose of foster care.
Our mission is to do the most we can for youth in our care. Safe Harbours worked with the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services so we can hire the very best CYWs, facilitate comprehensive training and provide excellent resources within the agency to assist in case management. Each youth is different with different needs and our programs are flexible enough to meet most challenges.
In closing, Safe Harbours is positioned to care for the children and youth that have been left to shuffle between homes with no clear path to recovery and grim prospects for their futures.
We are always pleased to help people understand our programs talk about our organization. If you are looking at becoming a foster parent in Ontario, looking for a home for a youth, or simply have a question - contact us using any method you prefer below. We look forward to hearing from you.