Caring. Accommodating. Loving. Understanding. Patient
THUNDER BAY – LIVING – These are just a handful of words the staff at Tikinagan Child & Family Services use to describe foster parents — the backbone to the agency’s work and service model, Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin, which means “everyone working together to raise our children.”
That is why Tikinagan is celebrating the commitment of their 235 foster parents across 30 First Nations and urban areas in Northwestern Ontario for the month of March.
“Foster Parents play an important role in the lives of our children and youth, and they are essential to successfully delivering our services,” said Thelma Morris, Tikinagan Executive Director. “This March, we are showing our appreciation of our foster parents for Foster Parent Appreciation Month, and we invite our communities to join us in honouring the time, effort, and energy they selflessly give to raising our children.”
At Tikinagan, Foster parents are everyday people who come from all walks of life – homemakers, band councilors, grandparents, uncles, and aunties. They work at the community store, the nursing station, the school. Foster parents can be married or single. Often, they have their own children.
But the key requirement is their willingness to help a child.
Morris: “It’s often the simple things that the children remember, such as a meal, a place to sleep, or just a listening ear. It’s about doing life with them. And like any child or youth, foster children need stability, guidance, structure, love and understanding.”
Tikinagan provides support and services for families who are experiencing difficulties and works to help these families find resources to heal. Whenever possible, they work to keep children and families together, and to help parents care for their children.
“We believe the answer lies within the communities, and we are committed to keeping our children within their communities,” said Morris. “But to make this happen, we need the help of individuals and couples who have a desire to make a difference. We need Indigenous Foster Families who want to help raise children while assisting them in maintaining their connections to their family, culture, and community.”
Tikinagan has a Residential Services Unit focused on developing a range of foster care options for children and youth who need to come into Tikinagan care. This unit offers programs and services to foster parents to assist them in providing the best possible environment for children.
Tikinagan provides foster parents with orientation on the role of a Tikinagan foster parent, ongoing training and education, emergency support and crisis intervention 24 hours a day, and respite care options. As well, financial reimbursement by a daily rate for regular food and accommodation expenses, as well as allowances for special expenses such as clothing, school recreation and health care.
“Many of our foster parents have been with us for 5, 10, even 15 years,” said Morris. “Many of them will tell you they foster because they want to make a difference. And they do. They really do.”
To learn more about becoming a Foster Parent or the services at Tikinagan, call 1-800-465-3624 or visit tikinagan.org.
For over 35 years, Tikinagan Child and Family Services has been serving our 30 First Nations in Northwestern Ontario. The Creator entrusted First Nations with the sacred responsibility of protecting our children and developing strong families and healthy communities.