Being a foster family can be life changing for parents and children
Mike and Janine Hamilton have been foster parents for more than ten years and have even made an addition to their home so they can help keep siblings together in families where multiple children are in care.
“Giving kids the opportunity to do things that they haven’t had the chance to do before, is incredibly rewarding. It could be something as simple as apple picking, but they have an absolute hoot pulling apples from the trees,” Mike says.
Mike was previously a child youth worker in Ontario and Janine’s parents also fostered children in her home growing up.
The couple always knew that they wanted to foster. “It would have been a deal breaker in our relationship.”
Janine says their two biological children have also been positively influenced by having foster brothers and sisters in their home.
“They are both exploring and aspiring to careers in child psychology and law.”
The couple began fostering in Ontario and moved to PEI a few years ago. Within six months of applying, they were thrilled to become a foster family and to be able to make a difference in the lives of Island children and youth in care by giving them a supportive home.
“Each foster situation is unique which is why going to information sessions and getting mentorship from other foster parents is really helpful,” Mike says.
While fostering can be extremely rewarding for families that open their home to children, it can also be life-changing for children in need of foster care.
Star Milton needed foster care as a child and her positive experience has shaped her home and professional life
“Living in the PEI foster care system has shaped who I am today.”
Star was in care from infancy and was adopted eight days before her eighteenth birthday. She now works as a social worker, and she and her husband are foster parents themselves.
Star encourages anyone considering becoming a foster parent to attend information sessions and learn as much as they can from others.
“There are no silly questions when it comes to foster parenting.”
She says the application process is straightforward, but thorough, for good reason.
“They need to assess the safety of your space, suggest helpful changes and contact references to make sure that children are going to nurturing homes.”
Star says their son loves when their foster child comes over.
“The neatest thing is being able to watch them interact with our biological child and see them grow together. They laugh and smile and it’s so great to see that interaction.”
There is always a need for foster parents in Prince Edward Island.