In Montreal, health authorities are on the hunt for 50 potential foster care families in order to better meet the needs of children in their care.
The CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, the local health authority for the centre of the city, made the call-out Wednesday.
“The needs of the child come first and we’re trying to match the child to the optimal family-life situation,” said Assunta Gallo, director of youth protection with the health authority.
“What is clear is that every child has the right to have a family.”
The goal is to gather a diverse pool of candidates who would be willing to welcome a child temporarily into their homes and hearts, she explained.
There are about 700 foster families at the moment, but they need more to help better serve children with diverse needs and from different backgrounds, according to Gallo.
Giving an example, Gallo said a child who requires one-on-one care may be placed in a home that has three kids — which isn’t ideal for that child, but is what was available at the time.
The health authority doesn’t have any children who are currently waiting for a foster home at this stage, but they are hoping to recruit more Montrealers.
“It could be parents who are couples, it could be people who are single,” Gallo said, adding they are also looking for families from a range of ethnic and religious communities.
“We are looking for a variety of families because we want to match children the closest possible to their communities.”
Rewarding experience for families
Bruny Toussaint has two daughters of his own, but he knew he wanted to have a bigger family. He decided to open his home to children in need five years ago.
Toussaint now has five kids in his care, ranging in age from five to 13 years old. It has been a rewarding experience.
“When you see that kid happy, smiling for the first time, yeah. There’s no price to that,” he said.
One of the challenges is finding people who are able to manage opening their home to a child on a temporary basis. The experience is rewarding but navigating the complexities of being an intricate part of the kid’s life also includes knowing they won’t be in your family home forever, according to Gallo.
Toussaint explained one of the hardest parts of his experience was earning the trust of a child dealing with emotional trauma. It’s important to let kids who have been through a difficult situation know there is hope and “they can be loved,” he said.
Toussaint said his advice for fostering a child comes down to being compassionate — and when they do leave, take comfort in knowing you did your part.
“Put yourself in that kid’s place,” he said. “It could have been you. It could have been your kids, God forbid.”
Anyone who is interested in becoming a foster family is able to contact the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal online.