When Kim Price, 54, worked as a Child and Youth Care worker back in the mid-90s, she harboured a secret. She had a niggling desire to become a foster parent. She even went to one of the orientation sessions that are held regularly around the province. But she kept her intent under her hat.
“It took Leslie* to change my life,” she said. “I met with her once a week, every Thursday night for four hours in my role as a child and youth care worker in the community. I kept tabs on what was happening for her. When I first met her she was 11-years-old. Her mother had died in a car accident. Her father was involved with drugs. By the time she was 15, I began to hear that she was getting involved in some high-risk behaviours, and she kept leaving foster homes. I just knew that if I agreed to give her a foster home, she wouldn’t leave. We already had a good relationship. And so I stepped up.”
That was the beginning of Kim’s long commitment to foster parenting.
At the time, she had two young sons, six and eight years old, and a partner. While she’s still in touch with many of her foster kids, there are ten girls, all in their twenties and early thirties who she refers to affectionately as her “attachers.” She thinks of them as sisters, as daughters, as best friends. “Those girls gave back to my family ten-fold,” she said. “They were able to talk to me about anything, especially those things they couldn’t talk to their parents about.”
And even though she prides herself on her openness, she also emphasizes that she knows how to set boundaries. “I’m a good mediator with families because in the end,” she says, “most of these kids in care will go back to their families or stay connected to them in some way.”
“My boys, now 23 and 25-years-old learned so much from these girls. They still keep in touch with them. They sometimes even go on day trips together. They consider them their sisters. But, let’s be real. It wasn’t always easy. Sometimes when the girls acted out, my boys would cry. I’d have to remind them. ‘They’re hurting. They’re confused. They don’t know any better. We have to love these girls’.”
Kim wants to encourage anyone who’s drawn to being a foster parent, even if it’s just an intuition, to do it. “Don’t be scared. You can’t live in fear. You have to open your heart and trust. What better way to give back to your community?”
Kim has been the foster caregiver to more kids than she can count, first in Maple Ridge and since 2008 from her farm in Quesnel. Some have been long term, some in respite care or short-term, most of them considered high-risk youth. She considers herself a “professional parent” and as a highly-skilled caregiver she’s approved to work with youth who have complex needs related to involvement with drugs or alcohol, legal involvement, mental health issues, and who may have experienced abuse of any type.
One thing she wishes more people would really take to heart is the understanding that “people can change.” And she feels a lot of pride when she thinks about some of the girls she’s fostered who are now flourishing and have proven just that. They’ve graduated, gone on to college, travelled and some have their own families. “Most importantly,” she says, “they’ve worked hard to stop the cycle of intergenerational trauma.”
Kim likes to think of herself as providing a “forever home” to all her “attachers.”
*Leslie is a pseudonym to protect privacy.
For more information
- B.C. Federation of Foster Parent Associations: www.bcfosterparents.ca/
- If you're interested in more information, please call our fostering line at 1-800-663-9999, or visit: http://ow.ly/t6db30fxewh.