Foster Care with a Difference

The number of abused, abandoned and medically, physically and emotionally challenged boys and girls is ever-growing, while funding for facilities, and the essential services that go with them, is ever-shrinking. The age-old story of supply and demand, and never the twain shall meet. Except in this case lives and futures are at stake.

It’s a dilemma to be sure but one that can be resolved, at least in part, with foster care — which we, at Maple Star Services, believe can be an even better option:

Unlike being in an institution, foster care gives at-risk youth an opportunity to live in supportive homes where they can get the guidance and nurturing they’ve missed out on … where they can “belong,” where they can be part of a family and a community. Which can teach them many of the life skills they will need to help them integrate more fully and successfully into society as adults.

The Role Maple Star Plays

Our Mission Statement:
Enhancing the lives of individuals in foster care through caring and supportive services.

Licensed in May 2004, Maple Star is an outside placement resource (OPR) that works with a variety of child welfare agencies. We are brought in when other suitable housing is unavailable.

Maple Star is family owned and run, initially by Len Rutman and now by his daughter, Jennifer Mittelman. Together, our team of highly-educated social workers/case managers, child and youth workers and tutors provide resource-intensive treatment foster care to about 100 children and youth in Ontario each year.

What distinguishes “treatment foster care” from regular foster care is the higher level of support we provide, which enables us to deal with those with more complex needs.

We want to make a difference in a child’s life. We nurture the children and help them reunite with their families.
- Shamyoun Bhagwandin, Maple Star Foster Parent

What's Unique about Maple Star

What drives everything we do is our belief in every child’s fundamental right: To be safe, nurtured, valued, respected and loved. When this cannot be provided in the family home, whatever the reason, it is our mission and our responsibility to provide that comfort, care and help elsewhere.

Make no mistake, this is not always an easy task. These children have complex needs; and we believe that successful outcomes cannot be achieved without the proper level of support for both the children and the foster families. And therein lies our difference:

  • Caseloads are kept small deliberately so we can always provide unparalleled support to both foster parents and foster kids.
  • Mentorship programs match new foster parents with experienced ones so they can network, learn from each other, gain valuable insights and be there for each other.
  • Maple Star’s expert team of case workers are all graduate social workers, from accredited universities, many of whom have studied at the Master’s level.
  • Maple Star’s team of child and youth workers have, at minimum, a CYW (child and youth worker) diploma, but many also have additional degrees. Tutors are licensed teachers, who have graduated from teacher’s college.
  • Continuing education and training are a routine and ongoing part of Maple Star staff development.
  • Maple Star enjoys excellent relationships with placing agencies.
  • Stability is important for all children, but for these it is critical. So needless to say our goal, which never wavers, is that our kids remain in the same foster homes until they can either return to their biological families, get adopted or are ready, and old enough, to live independently.

    There’s no question that the exceptional support systems we have in place for everyone involved can and should be credited with much of the success. But we take it a step further:

    It is also our belief that for foster children to believe they can have a future filled with hope and promise, they also have to believe in themselves. And so, at our own expense, we offer college scholarships to eligible foster children who are crown wards.

    As Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

    At Maple Star, the kids are the real stars.
    - Veronica & Horace Beckford, Maple Star Foster Parents