Living in foster care from the age of six, Daniel moved around Ontario until the age of 14 — when he moved in with Adam, a parent therapist with Quinte Children’s Homes (QCH).
Now a student at Carleton University in Ottawa, Daniel describes his move from care to being on his own as an easy transition. “I have a bit more freedom now, but it’s not that big a difference.”
Freedom — confidence — is something that’s a key part of care with QCH, and for Daniel it made a difference. “Adam let me be me. Whatever that required; the freedom to hang out with people, or to play video games,” Daniel said. “Freedom to grow.”
Freedom to grow
This kind of transition is not necessarily typical within the foster care system, but it’s given a high priority by Quinte Children’s Homes. “One of the first things we look at when a youth enters our care is their perception of being cared for by their Parent Therapist,” explained QCH Clinical Director Jeff Waplak.
Waplak noted that there’s a balance between the appropriate amount of protection and ensuring the youth has enough independence to make their own decisions, setting expectations and working within boundaries.
“With late teens, we want them to have a full understanding of their circumstances, their strengths and their weaknesses… and to accept themselves,” Waplak said. “We give them the skills they need to be able to advocate for themselves, both while in care and as young adults.”
In Daniel’s case, it was this freedom to grow that allowed him to plan his way to the University of his choosing. Together, with the support of the local Children’s Aid and Quinte Children’s Homes, Daniel and Adam developed a transition plan that mirrors that of most adolescents shifting into post-secondary education.
Daniel will continue to receive additional financial support from the local Children’s Aid through what is referred to as Extended Care and Maintenance Agreement. These contracts allow the Children’s Aid Society to provide support post 18 years of age which is often key to the success of youth transitioning into post secondary education.
In addition, a number of youth are awarded bursaries through local charities such as ‘Reach for Success’ which is supported by a number of local organizations including Stevenson, Waplak and Associates.
As Terry Stevenson, Executive Director of SWA notes, youth often have a harder time accessing money for school if he or she has bounced through a variety of placements. SWA tries to assist in supporting these individuals by participating in these scholarship programs, including the Rotary Loves Kids Golf Tournament which raises money for the ‘Reach for Success’ bursaries each year.
As for Daniel, he continues to adjust to the place of University life with the help of his parent/therapist and the network of support he has come to appreciate within Quinte Children’s Homes.
If you’re interested in being part of an organization that cares for it’s children well beyond the placement years, don’t hesitate to contact us or apply to become a foster parent with our organization.