News Release Archive

COMMUNITY SERVICES--Love, Humour Guide Foster Families
When one of George and Jackie Doucette's daughters brought home a
pamphlet about foster parenting four years ago, it marked the
beginning of many special relationships.

Since then, the Yarmouth couple have opened their home and hearts
to more than 24 foster children. The children, most of them
adolescents, have stayed anywhere from three to 18 months.

The Doucettes are currently foster parents to four children: a
set of 10-year-old twin girls, their 12-year-old sister, and a
15-year-old girl. Add to the mix their own two daughters, ages 11
and 13, and it makes for bustling school-day mornings in the
Doucette household.

"With six girls, we have to start lining up for the bathroom at
6:30 a.m.," says Jackie Doucette, laughing.

Humour and the ability to not take things too seriously are
important personality traits for foster parents, says Mrs.

"Sometimes when someone else's child comes into your home, they
do things you wouldn't imagine, so we always try to be really
good-natured with the kids and we find this rubs off on them, not
to mention that a lot of fights can be defused with a laugh."

Humour is also a good ice-breaker; Mrs. Doucette says she will
start joking around when foster children first arrive at her home
to help them become comfortable.

When children come into the home, they usually feel nervous and
alone. The Doucettes are quick to assure the children that they
are not alone. And everyone feels nervous until a couple of 
weeks pass and they get to know each other better. 

On the first night, the Doucettes usually have take-out food as a
treat and they let the child pick out a bedroom. Mrs. Doucette
says she believes one of the most important steps in making a
child comfortable is ensuring he or she immediately becomes a
member of the family.

"They're not labelled but treated like one of our own kids,@ she
says. "If I go to the mall and I have the girls with me when I
meet someone, I'll say these are my six kids. I include them in
everything and this happens right off the bat."

Jackie Doucette says she believes that love and support are the
most important things foster parents can offer foster children.
And showing them that they are part of the family is an important
step in allowing them to become stronger. 

Foster parents undertake a mandatory six-week orientation program
aimed at raising their awareness of the needs of foster children.
Mrs. Doucette says the benefits of the program, provided through
the Federation of Foster Families Association of Nova Scotia, are

First, it helps potential foster parents determine whether it's a
responsibility they are genuinely able to take on before they go
through the paperwork. Second, for those already certain they
want to become foster parents, it provides training in meeting
the specific needs of foster children and in handling different
situations that may arise. 

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

The Doucettes say being a foster family is a wonderful
experience. Providing love and support is the easy part, they
say. It's saying goodbye, as the children return, usually, to
their own families, that is difficult.

"It's almost like a death in the family. Everybody cries and gets
depressed and the house seems so empty when it's just down to
four or five of us," says Mrs. Doucette. However, realizing the
positive impact you can have on a child's life is important and
that helps ease the goodbyes.


Contact: Charlene MacLean-Richard
         Community Services

ngr                Oct. 21, 1997                     10:45 am