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What is foster care?

Foster care describes the unique situation of providing temporary family-based care to a child or youth who cannot currently remain in their own home.

What is the goal of foster care?

The goal of the foster care system is to have children return to their family homes. If this is not possible, the goal becomes to arrange a permanent home through adoption or private guardianship, or to prepare youth to live independently.

What are foster children like?

Foster children range in age from newborn to 17. Children in care come from all backgrounds and have a wide variety of personalities, interests, skills, and emotional and medical needs. Most have come into care due to various forms and levels of abuse or neglect, or sometimes, due to their special needs.

While foster care is only temporary, the impact that a stable, supportive and caring home can have during critical stages of development is remarkable. Many children go on to succeed in school, at work, at home, in their community, and most importantly, in life.

What do children in foster care need most?

Like all children, children in care need a home where they are nurtured and loved. They need caregivers who can be understanding, and who can provide the consistency, structure, security, and healthy role-modeling they need to thrive.

Am I eligible to foster?

Aspen is an inclusive agency that welcomes foster parents of all identities, ethnicities, religions and walks of life. Foster parents can be single or married, renters or home owners, with or without children of their own, retired or working outside of the home. We believe having diversity among our foster parents allows us to better match children and youth with a home that’s best for them.

The following are the minimum requirements that must be met to be eligible to foster in Alberta:

  • You must be a legal resident of Alberta and be at least 18 years old
  • If cohabitating, you must be in a stable relationship for at least 12 months prior to applying
  • You must be physically and mentally capable of meeting the child’s needs, with no major illnesses or traumas in the past 12 months
  • You must presently have an income that allows you to live within your means (compensation provided to foster parents is only enough to cover the basic costs of caring for a child)

What does the screening and assessment process involve?

After an initial conversation with Aspen, you will receive the application paperwork. This includes a questionnaire about you and your family, and a consent form for referral checks. You will also be required to obtain a Vulnerable Sector Police Information Check and a Child and Youth Intervention Record Check. Completed documents are then carefully reviewed by the Aspen team who decide whether or not to proceed with your application.

All prospective foster parents must then complete 24 hours of mandatory training and a SAFE Home Assessment by a licensed assessor. A further 24 hours of training is required within the first six month of being licensed. In addition, foster parents must show proof of home and auto insurance, a completed medical reference, and Emergency First Aid with CPR certification.

Once the screening and assessment process is complete, all paperwork is submitted to the Ministry of Children’s Services for licensing approval. After your application is reviewed and a successful safety inspection of your home is completed by Children’s Services, you will become a licensed foster home in the province of Alberta. Licensing is renewed on an annual basis through Children’s Services.

While this can be a lengthy process, these components are critical to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of every child in care.

Will the government inspect my home?

As part of the licensing process, a staff member from the Ministry of Children’s Services will visit your home. This involves a walkthrough of the physical space to ensure safety and adherence to standardized requirements set out by the government (such as fire safety). Children’s Services will also review your home assessment, background checks and training documents to ensure your home is a good fit for a foster placement.

Your Aspen support worker will be there to guide you throughout the process, ensuring you understand each step and feel prepared.

Will I get to decide which children are placed in my home?

All Aspen foster parents can specify the ages and needs of the children and youth they are willing and able to support. Foster parents often make these decisions based on the number, age and needs of their biological children; their commitments to work and leisure activities; and their level of experience.

Our trained support workers work closely with Aspen foster parents to help match each child with the best home based on his or her needs. When a foster home is contacted about a potential placement, foster parents have an opportunity to ask questions about the child or youth and always have the right to refuse a placement.

Will I hear from foster children after they leave?

While each child and circumstance is unique, many foster children stay in touch with their former foster parents long after they move out of their home.

How do I get started?

To learn more about fostering with Aspen or to begin the process, please call 403-219-3477 ext. 144, email, or complete our online inquiry form.