Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has caused some challenges, it’s also opened a window of opportunity for Ranch Ehrlo’s Treatment Foster Care (TFC) programs.

The programs have expanded virtually, meaning more families and youth can better connect and gain important knowledge to improve services.

For Dianna Stang, the manager of Treatment Foster Care in Corman Park, the video chats have allowed her to become more connected with the team. The TFC program only expanded to the north in the last few years and is a newer program than the one in the south.

“It has been a little bit lonely at times being the only person in my program,” Dianna said. “ I had previously been joining TFC for monthly team meetings, however, we began having weekly meetings in November, which has been a great way for us to stay on top of the rush of new referrals to the program and has helped to further strengthen our program.”

Plus, the virtual connections will help northern foster parents get to know some of the more experienced foster parents in the south.

Dianna said this will allow more mentoring opportunities.

“The plan is to open up some upcoming training opportunities to all of our foster parents, which will be helpful for their professional development and will also be more cost-effective to the agency,” she said. “Some upcoming training include cultural group, executive functioning, and child development.”

Cultural program
Foster parents Heather and Quincy hosted the first cultural program virtually with families, teaching them about the medicine wheel and how kids can keep balance in their lives.

Heather said the virtual meetings allowed them to reach more families. It is extremely important Indigenous children know and be proud of their culture and where they come from, she said.

“When you’re a child in care, the numbers are highly Indigenous and they are typically put in non-First Nations homes,” Heather explained. “For non-First Nations people, they often look where they can access supports, so we thought this program would help with that.”

Heather said she grew up in care and didn’t have a good sense of self because those supports weren’t there at the time.

“We’re here to help the other parents instill that sense of self and identity for the youth,” she said. “It’s important they access that when they’re young and in healthy ways.”

Going forward
As more programs continue to be delivered virtually, Dianna said she hopes they help families build their own skills and knowledge.

She said she also hopes this helps parents in the north and south build a sense of community.

“It will help everyone to get to know one another and support each other in this amazing work they do with the children placed in their homes,” she said. “I’m very excited about this opportunity for our foster families and hope that this continues even after the COVID-19 crisis ends.”

The Ranch is currently looking for professional Treatment Foster Care parents across Saskatchewan. Join a passionate team that is committed to providing a supportive and loving family environment where children and youth can develop to their full potential.