Foster Parent Spotlight: Carol

In honour of Foster Parent Appreciation Month, every week we are spotlighting some remarkable Foster Parents.

Carol Graham, Short-term Foster Parent with Tikinagan for seven years

At 65, Carol Graham says she feels like a kokum to the children who come into her home where she is a short-term care Foster Parent — a role she says is totally worth it.

“I think it’s fun,” said Graham of fostering. “You’re forever cooking, and you’re forever doing laundry, and you’re forever picking up toys. It’s worth it. It’s so worth it.”

Graham and her partner often foster many babies or young children overnight or for a few weeks. During those short-term placements, it’s the time spent together she enjoys most.

“I like playing games with them, reading to them, being at the park in the summer town beach. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

Graham is also quick to embrace many of the unique challenges of caring for children with development needs, knowing everyone who comes through her door is not the same. She’s taken opportunities to learn about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), asthma, skin conditions, sleeping and related management techniques to widen her range of foster parenting skills.

“I needed a whole new toolbox to know how to help these kids,” she said.

That toolbox was provided by Tikinagan, who provides support where and when needed through training, education, and support.

Tikinagan also works with local partners, such as the Nishnawbe-Gamik Friendship Centre, Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority, Firefly, and the Northern Clinic located at the Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre.

“The support system is huge,” said Graham. “The Tikinagan worker that I’ve been placed with has been very helpful, very kind and considerate. He always asks, ‘What do we need?’”

Like any adult raising a child, every day brings its own unique set of curve balls. Graham explained that the demands of the role help her rise to the occasion.

“(Foster Parents) can expect the unexpected. You have no idea what each day will be. And I do keep the phone on me because you never know when the school’s going to call. But the rewards are great.”

Graham, who has been a Foster Parent with Tikinagan for seven years after a friend who was also fostering at the time encouraged her to give it a try to keep her busy, is one of more than 370 Foster Parents being recognize by the agency during Foster Parent Appreciation Month this month.

“I think it’s wonderful,” said Graham. “It sure beats an office job, which I’ve done long enough!”

Now, she says she’s committed to the role long term.

“They surprise you, they keep you humble, they keep you active, they keep you busy. They keep you involved. I’m going to do this as long as I can.”

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