My Fostering Village includes my
By Judy Hollywood Bonnett
Foster parents have backgrounds and experiences as varied as the children and families they serve. As a skilled foster parent, you embody the best in child-centred parenting and personal self-care. You are capable, competent, and collaborative. You’ve taken on a staggering task and prepared yourself to thrive by knowing, as the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. In this article we explore building your fostering village and the benefits of joining forces with your Foster Parent Support Service Society (FPSS) coordinator.
Building an effective fostering village will improve the in-care experience for all its members. At its heart, are vulnerable young people from challenging situations who come into the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) or Delegated Aboriginal Agency. With your guidance, over time, they will learn to look to you for comfort and stability. You support them and then lean on your village of expertise and experience for support. The fostering village is a unique place bordered by privacy and confidentiality agreements. It exists within limited timelines as determined by courts or MCFD placement decisions. You rebuild your village with each subsequent placement, saying goodbye to some past members and welcoming new.
In your thriving fostering village, you’ve welcomed the child, their family, their significant friends, communities and, often, their distinct cultural heritage. You make room for child/youth educational, support and/or justice professionals. MCFD workers join to deliver guardianship and legislative direction and oversight to your fostering efforts.
You’ve also invited your personal support team into your village. This includes your own family, MCFD Resource worker, respite service providers, and trusted fostering peers. Included on your support team are foster parent support workers from community agencies – known as Behavioural Consultants, Resource Enhancement Counsellors or Foster Support Workers. These parenting and behavioural specialists assist you to stabilize those in your care and hopefully, to thrive within the home you’ve erected in your foster care village.
Key among the personal support workers in your village is your local Foster Parent Support Service Society coordinator. Often an experienced foster parent herself, she is a concerned and knowledgeable professional who brings a toolkit for your personal support and individual information. She guarantees the confidentiality of your voluntary access to her coordinator services.
Your Foster Parent Support Service coordinator works alongside you. Among her tools is the provision of information on a wide variety of topics from child welfare legislation to managing lice and from first placement to FASD training. At your request, she locates current resource material or Ministry publications to assist you in your caregiving role. With your FPSS Coordinator’s support, you can identify MCFD policies, procedures or practices, and then contact your Resource worker for placement-specific clarification.
Another tool in her kit is a familiarity with your local fostering community. Speak to your FPSS coordinator when you wish to expand your fostering peer contacts. If you are new to fostering, your coordinator can match you with an experienced foster parent mentor. Strong peer relationships can become an essential element in your personal self-care and foster home preservation. She invites you to rejuvenate and connect with peer foster parents at support coffee meetings and fun foster family activities arranged in conjunction with your network of fostering partners.
At the community level, your FPSS coordinator collaborates with your local foster networks or associations, MCFD Resource workers and other foster support agencies to provide the workshops and presentations that are in demand in your community. These fostering skill development opportunities are paramount as you face increasingly complex fostering placements. In short, your local FPSS Coordinator will be a crucial source of information, support and connections for you and your fostering village.
Developing and managing your fostering village can be tough work. Initially it may require determination and time to build these relationships. Remember, you are not alone in this task. A conversation with your local FPSS Coordinator reduces the hazards of fostering in isolation and provides you with a certainty that developing your fostering village benefits you and those in your care.
You can contact your FPSS Coordinator in one of seven Vancouver Island communities from Victoria to Port Hardy. TOLL FREE 1-888-922-8437 Monday through Thursday 9:00am to 4:00pm, Friday 9:00am to 1:00pm Closed Weekends and Statutory Holidays. The FPSS Society Coordinators are available 5 days a week to assist you.
Your coordinator is available to assist foster parents in obtaining current information; support services for caregivers; ongoing training and development opportunities; peer support and mentoring; and BC Foster Care Education Program information.
Coordinators provide support services to foster parents through the organization, scheduling and facilitation of Peer Support Groups; offering foster parents an avenue for personal, individual support by making referral recommendations and suggestions; providing foster parents with necessary Ministry publications to assist them in their role as caregivers; to introduce them to experienced foster parents as mentors; to assist them in locating relevant resource material; and to ensure they are aware of Ministry, council and community support services available to them.
Through caregiver contact at meetings, social events and workshop evaluations, the Coordinator identifies areas of concern, topics foster parents want more training on, and policies or procedures which are unclear. In consultation with the other FPSSS staff members and the Strategic Planning Committee, the Coordinator organizes and facilitates workshops and forums to address the needs of foster parents in each area.
Contact a Coordinator in Your Area
South Island Area Coordinator
South Island Safe Babies Coordinator
Regional Office: 145-735 Goldstream Avenue,
Victoria, BC V9Z 0Y5
Tel: 778-430-5459 / Fax: 778-430-5463
Cowichan Valley Local Coordinator
Central Island Safe Babies Coordinator
Central Island Area Coordinator
Port Alberni Local Coordinator
Comox Valley Local Coordinator
Tel: 250-898-4488/ Fax: 250-871-5634
Judy Hollywood Bonnett
Upper Island Area Coordinator
Mary Catherine Williams
Upper Island Safe Babies Coordinator
Port Hardy Local Coordinator
You can reach the Regional Office for support toll free at
Monday to Thursday, 8:30am to 4:00pm
Fridays, 8:30am to 1:00pm