Meet Our Foster Parents: Jolene & Sims Roundhead (Mishkeegogamang)

Six and half years ago in Mishkeegogamang First Nation, Jolene Roundhead heard about Tikinagan & Child Family Services’ need for foster families. She went home to talk to her husband, Sims, about it and they agreed to try it out.

Their first child was a brand new baby boy, and they still foster him today. 

“It was actually really awesome, because you got to learn and grow with the child,” said Roundhead of her first fostering experience. 

“You have to work closely with them to get them to learn, and to me that is the biggest reward: teaching them and watching them and seeing their expressions on their faces when they’re actually learning something, or doing something for the first time. It’s really cool.”

Roundhead, 41, who admits she has always had a love for children, said now she does most of the teaching while her husband helps children explore their interests, whether it’s playing XBox games or learning how to trap on the land.

To date, Roundhead said they’ve fostered 38 children. Each time, though, the hardest part is still watching them go.

“You fall in love with them, and you know some day they will go home, but when it actually happens, it just feels all wrong because you’ve poured all you’re love and soul into them, and it’s hard to watch them go home. Even though it’s exciting for them, it’s hard for us.”

As a part of Tikinagan’s Foster Parent Appreciation Month, Jolene and Sims, along with the more than 370 foster parents across the agency’s 30 First Nations and urban communities, are being recognized by the agency for their commitment to raising children.  

They were nominated because they continuously take in high-risk children, providing a home where there is fun and compassion.

Roundhead shared that understanding that these children need love is the biggest key.

“Some of them may not have had a lot of love at home, so they act out to get attention, but the wrong attention,” she explains. “You always have to keep in mind, no matter what they do, you always have to give them positive attention because they’re seeking the negative attention and they get a thrill from it.”

Roundhead credits Tikinagan’s support for not just foster parents but the children as an important part of everyone working together to raise children, which is Tikinagan’s service model Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin. 

“It works out really good because you have a broad spectrum of people you can go to when you need help with the kids, she said. “Having that support for them is really good.

“It’s kind of like being in one great big family. A lot of the workers are really amazing people and they work really hard to get what they kids need.”

When asked what advice she would share with future foster parents, Roundhead said they cannot expect a child to come into your home and be perfect. Instead, “be patient and supportive.

“They’re going to act out because they’ve been taken from their family, so you’re going to go through a little bit of a difficult time with them processing everything that is going on. Because sometimes they just don’t understand.”

Tikinagan has a Residential Services Unit focused on developing a range of foster care options for children and youth who need to come into Tikinagan care. This unit offers programs and services to foster parents to assist them in providing the best possible environment for children.

Tikinagan provides foster parents with orientation on the role of a Tikinagan foster parent, ongoing training and education, emergency support and crisis intervention 24 hours a day, and respite care options. As well, financial reimbursement by a daily rate for regular food and accommodation expenses, as well as allowances for special expenses such as clothing, school recreation and health care.

To learn more, click here.

Read about Foster Parent Shelly Meehan