Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

It Takes a Village - St. Aidan's Society

The phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” has been so often used that one may think it is a cliché without meaning – and yet is so true, and perhaps no more true than in the case of children who require foster care. These are children who have families, but who require the care of foster parents because their own parents are struggling and are unable to provide adequate care for them. And this is where the village – our community, and foster parents – comes in.

Recently I had a chance to chat with someone from St. Aidan’s House Society, one of the local organizations that are contracted with our provincial government to provide foster care for children in need. St. Aidan’s has a long history in our community, going all the way back to 1973 when Family Court Judge Harry Aime recognized the need for foster care families in this area. Judge Aime saw many children requiring care passing through his court, and he realized that there was a gap in the system to assist them – and so St. Aidan’s Society, a non-denominational organization to create foster care, was formed.

I must admit I have little personal knowledge of foster care, but I have, in the past, known foster parents who often had foster children in their care. I always had tremendous respect for these individuals, as they open their homes and their families to children in need, but they do so much more than just that. You see, where it is safe and appropriate foster parents are encouraged to keep contact with the parents of the foster children in their care, and so the bounds of family stretch even a bit further as it begins to encompass not just the children but the parents too. It seems it takes a special person, and special families, to do this task, and this is what St. Aidan’s is seeking. Every year the good folks at St. Aidan’s reach out into the community to find new foster families, because there are always children in need.

It isn’t just a matter of having enough foster families, either, but having the right foster families for each child. St. Aidan’s tries to match foster parents and foster children carefully, with the goal of never having a foster placement break down. And so they can never really have enough qualified foster families, as a larger pool of families means more chances to find the perfect fit for each child, thus proving beneficial for all involved. There are challenges to finding foster families, though, because it does take special people.

Fostering takes special people who are willing to commit time and energy to completing several courses on everything from First Aid to Caregiver Orientation, undergoing criminal records checks, and a rigorous application process. It takes people who have the ability to see inside a child with behaviour issues and find the little person within, the one who needs nurturing and care. It takes a people who can adjust their family dynamics to integrate another child into it. It takes people who can put aside personal judgement and see that the parents of children in care need support, not judging. It takes people willing to create a village to raise a child.

Foster parents are often those who may have had experience with the system themselves, perhaps having been foster children or in families that have fostered children. While that experience gives them some fundamental understanding of the nuances it isn’t necessary to become a foster parent. It seems the only real thing required to become a foster parent is the desire to make a difference in the life of a child.

You see adults do make differences in the lives of children. Children look to us for love and attention and care and guidance. Children, our own biological ones or those of others, need us to give them what they need to become contributing members of our society. And sometimes they need a little bit more, and they need foster parents to step in when their own parents are unable, for whatever length of time and reason, to provide those things. That is what St. Aidan’s does – it matches children in need with foster parents with care and love to give, and to do so it needs foster families – like yours.

Yes, people, like yours. Perhaps you have experience with the foster care system, and perhaps you don’t. Perhaps you have often wondered about fostering children, or perhaps you’ve never given it much thought but you know that there are children in need who might benefit from your family. I can’t say it will be easy should you choose to become a foster parent – but I think I can safely say it will be rewarding. One of the things missing in the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” is mention of what it does for those in the village. You see our future rises and falls on the future of our children, as they hold the future of us all in their tiny little hands. The rewards are both personal and village-wide, as we ensure that all children in our village receive the love and care and attention that they need for a bright future. Their bright future is the bright future of the village. It takes a special family to ensure that bright future. Could that special family be yours?

St. Aidan’s House Society
Can be contacted at
Please consider foster parenting –
You could be the special person
That makes the difference in the life of one child.

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