Bernadette (Bernie) and Robert Bowyer have been foster caregivers with Peel CAS for more than 20 years. In 2015, they won Peel CAS’s highest award for their commitment to children and youth in the community. With the agency currently in need of foster caregivers we asked Bernie to share her story.
My parents fostered children for 40 years and I have three adopted siblings. It was natural and normal to have children involved with children’s aid come into our home for varying periods of time. My husband and I started fostering three months after I gave birth to my first child.
I have always had a desire to help others and care for kids. It really makes me feel good to be part of a team. I value the mutual respect between the agency and caregivers. I have made fostering my career, but to me it is also a mission. I feel like I have a lot to give to others.
As a caregiver I get to welcome children into my home when they need a safe place to stay and show them love and support. I always put them and their needs first. I know that the goal is always to have them reunite with their family so I focus on the here and now and do my best to prepare them for what happens when they leave my home.
As a foster parent trainer, I help others to understand what it means to be a caregiver and the rewards and challenges that come with it. Just like any job - some days are hard. You put in a lot of time, effort and energy and over the years I’ve learned that the more you give, the more you get back. Sometimes it can be hard when they leave, but I don’t worry about my heart, I worry about theirs. What’s important is that they know that my door is always open.
Foster caregivers are adults who provide children with typical day-to-day care and nurture them through difficult times. To become a caregiver, you do not need to be married, have children, or own your own home. You do need strong parenting skills, a love of children and the time to devote to a child physically as well as emotionally. As Peel CAS works toward helping bring children and families back together, caregivers are also involved with the child’s biological family through visits, meetings and by being supportive.
Caregivers help children maintain their social, cultural, and religious connections so Peel CAS tries whenever possible to match children with caregivers from the same race and religion. We currently have a need for Caucasian caregivers and caregivers who are interested in working with babies, teens and siblings. If you are interested in learning more, there are a couple of things you can do. A fostering application form is available online at www.peelcas.org. Fill it out and a family placement worker will be in touch with you. Or give us a call at 905-363-6131. We look forward to hearing from you.