When children and youth come into foster care, they might be experiencing change for the first time. At Tikinagan Child and Family Services, nurturing Live-In Foster Parents play a crucial role in helping them adapt, making them feel safe and supported during transitions.
Betty Maud, who spent four years as a Live-In Foster Parent for Tikinagan, knows how important it was to make a difference for children and youth. She said her goal was to always provide a safe environment, where children and youth could become themselves.
“As time went on, I really, really enjoyed seeing them relax,” recalls Maud. “They would have that humour. They would start laughing, they would start doing little silly things. Just to see that showed me that they were being more comfortable, more trusting.”
As a caregiver, Maud engaged the children in aspects of family life from choosing what groceries to shop for meal planning to taking them to appointments and community events
“It made them feel important, that their input was important, too.”
Live-In Foster Parents work with Tikinagan to ensure Ministry standards are met and carried out in the home, providing a sustainable and encouraging environment for children while Tikinagan covers all living expenses.
Tikinagan provides ongoing support for Live-In Foster Parents, including debriefing and weekly meetings with staff. For Maud, the training at Tikinagan was “a real bonus,” educating herself on first aid and suicide prevention. Live-In Foster parents also receive respite once a month.
Though used for the short-term, Live-In Foster Parents are an important part of the community and the Tikinagan service model Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin, which means “everyone working together to raise our children.” Maud took her part in the community seriously.
“As a live-in foster parent, you are the community and you are helping. Every child matters.”
An Anishinawbe Ojibway originally from Manitoba with 10 grandchildren of her own, Maud says she used her own life experiences as a Live-In Foster Parent, including her childhood when she remembers who paid attention and encouraged her.
“I always think with each foster child that I’ve have had: it’s about riding the tides with them, through the ups and downs – the ‘lumps and bumps’ I always say – and we get through it. I walk with them through it. Every child needs that encouragement, they need validation. As a Live-In Foster Parent, you’re definitely making a difference.”
You can listen to Maud’s full interview here. For more information on being a Live-In Foster Parent or a Foster Parent with Tikinagan, visit tikinagan.org or call 1-800-465-3624.