Become a Jewish Foster Parent

Published: January 22nd 2010

Jewish Family & Child is looking for Jewish foster parents.
Pic: JF&CS;


Jewish Family & Child is always looking for potential new Jewish foster families.


The provincially-mandated child welfare organization has to be prepared for anything. On a given day, they can get a call to place a teen girl, a two-year old and a four-month old – all not related – in foster care.


Placement is not as simple as it sounds.


Many factors go into finding an appropriate Jewish foster family. Besides age, JF&CS accommodates for religious affiliation, communities within the Jewish community, keeping kosher, celebrating holidays and other connections to the Jewish community, as well as whether one of the parents is stay-at-home, in the case of younger children. They also try to place siblings together whenever possible.


Currently, there are 40 Jewish foster families in the GTA. Children live with a foster family anywhere between six months and a few years. The average stay is approximately six to eighteen months.


“There’s always a need for foster families. We need to have as much inventory as we can,” said Marsha Urowitz, Jewish Family & Child’s Foster Home Recruiter. “We might have a child who identifies with being Orthodox of a certain gender who might not be suitable for a family that is perhaps less observant. So we always need to have open approved homes available should the need arise because placement and spirituality level and gender and age are all key facts in placing a child.”


Being a foster parent is rewarding, but it is a huge commitment. After undergoing specialized screening, including police, medical, home safety and reference checks, prospective foster parents must attend 10 weeks of training, one evening a week for three hours. Classes are generally held downtown. Training can be a grueling commitment for the busy suburban two-career family with biological children of their own.


“Foster parents make a difference in the lives of the children or child in their care,” said Urowitz. “It really takes a special type of person or family to be able to step up and say I have room for one more in my home, I’m committed to helping a Jewish child out and I’m committed to fulfilling the requirement of the application process – which can be difficult.”


Many in the community may not realize that Jewish Family & Child helps out foster families with the cost of caring for the needs of their foster child or children. A per diem rate is paid to cover board, food, recreation, clothes and even tutoring. Foster children also attend camp.


“The idea is that a foster parent should not be placed in any type of financial stress for being a foster parent,” said Urowitz.


The system is set up to provide the necessary support so that foster parents and foster children thrive together. Families continue to attend classes, even after they begin caring for their foster child, where they share information and receive support from other foster parents. Each family also gets a resource worker for the parents and for the child or children who is available at a moment’s notice.


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