News Release Archive

COMMUNITY SERVICES--Foster Parents Feel Blessed
"It makes you feel like you've been blessed," says Jean Earle
about her experience as a foster parent.

Mrs. Earle and her husband, Ron, of East Preston, have been
foster parents for almost four years. During this time they have
opened their home and hearts to three foster children ranging
from five to 13 years old. 

Mrs. Earle says the idea of becoming foster parents developed
unexpectedly. "I had a friend who could no longer care for her
foster child, and that's when I started thinking that my husband
and I could provide a nice foster family. I also realized there
aren't many black foster homes available, so more are always

The Earles are currently foster parents to two children: a
five-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl. And although the length
of a foster child's stay can be either short-or long-term, one of
the children has been with the Earles for almost four years.

The initial adjustment can be difficult for the children. Mrs.
Earle explains their approach when a foster child comes into
their home: "We consider them our own from the beginning. We
welcome them and show them their room, then we encourage them to
feel comfortable talking about whatever they want and assure them
that we will always listen."

As well, they play games, watch a movie and offer treats to try
to help the children become comfortable. Their warm and loving
approach seems to work. Rather than being shy and keeping their
distance, the children are eager to be close to the Earles almost

Some of their approach comes from years of experience with
children. The couple raised their own son and daughter and now
enjoy frequent visits from their five young grandchildren. 

Mrs. Earle says foster children fit right in with her family.
"It's as if we've always had them. In fact, when my grandchildren
visit us, our oldest foster child can't wait to lend a helping
hand to care for them." 

The Earles believe it's important to take an active role in the
lives of their foster children. Jean Earle laughs as she says:
"Our daughter teases us and tells us we're acting like teenagers
because we're on the floor carrying on with them, or we're
outside playing with them.

"We're basically involved in all their activities, whether it's
school or play, and we believe this shows the children that they
are very special to us."

She says love and understanding are the most important things
foster parents can provide, and this helps the children become

One of the couple's foster children has attention deficit
hyperactive disorder and needs extra personal attention. The
Earles knew little about the disorder before the child moved in,
but they learned enthusiastically through working with the child,
the school and a psychologist.

Learning about the needs of foster children is not limited to
parents' own resources; a six-week orientation developed by the
Federation of Foster Family Associations of Nova Scotia also
helps prepare parents in caring for foster children.

There is no doubt that it takes special people to become foster
parents, and their commitment is honoured during Foster Family
Week, Oct. 19-25. There were more than 1,750 children in foster
care and approximately 680 approved foster homes in Nova Scotia
last year.

Being foster parents requires tolerance, patience, and a lot of
love to share. But no matter what you have to be, says Mrs.
Earle, "it makes you realize how good you've had it, especially
if you were a child that had both parents with you through to
your adult life.

"When I look at these children, it makes me realize how much more
I want to give."

Part of any placement involves saying goodbye as the children
return, usually, to their own families. Although the Earles
haven't had many occasions to say goodbye, Jean says, "When that
happens, knowing you had an opportunity, even if it was for one
month, to help a child get stronger will make parting a little


Contact: Charlene MacLean-Richard
         Community Services

ngr                 Oct. 21, 1997                 10:35 am