“We have welcomed many children of various ages into our home and they all hold a special place in our hearts.” Janice Tomlinson and her husband DeVon began caring for children as foster caregivers for Peel CAS more than 20 years ago. Having a big family didn’t deter them from welcoming additional children into their home. In fact, working with vulnerable children and families inspired Janice to go back to further her education, including becoming a social services worker. “My education definitely helped me to better meet the needs of the children we cared for in our home,” says Janice.
About four years ago, Janice’s family began caring for two siblings, ages six and seven. “When Nashia and Nazier came into our home we instantly felt a bond with them,” says Janice. “Nashia was such a warm and loving child and Nazier was so helpful and wanted to be the big boy of the house.”
The Tomlinson’s cared for the siblings while Peel CAS worked towards reuniting the children with their birth family. “As foster caregivers we know that the goal is for children to return to their family and we do whatever we can to support this.”
However, when it was determined that being reunited with their birth parents was no longer an option for the siblings, the Tomlinson’s didn’t hesitate to make their home a permanent one for Nashia and Nazier.
On a stormy day in February, Janice, DeVon, their four biological children, and Nashia and Nazier went to court and the family got legal custody of the siblings. “I will never forget Nazier excitedly saying ‘we are officially a family now,’” says Janice.
The story doesn’t end there. The Tomlinson’s have never wavered in their commitment to being foster caregivers and they continue to care for children involved with Peel CAS. “We also have two other siblings, who are seven and 17, in our home and they are also an important part of our family.”
A family tradition
Growing up with parents who openly welcomed children in need of a safe place to live into their home has made a big impact on two of the Tomlinson’s biological daughters. “Two of our daughters, who are now adults, live together and are also foster caregivers for Peel CAS,” says Janice. “It is just a part of our lives. In our home our children learned valuable life lessons such as how to share what they have, not take anything for granted and the importance of being kind to others. These experiences shaped their lives and they are now doing what they can to continue to support vulnerable children and families. We are so fortunate.”