About Us

About Us

Carpe Diem Residential Therapeutic Treatment Homes for Children is a specialized program designed to provide treatment foster care for emotionally distressed children. Our commitment to create a caring, encouraging, and structured environment - that meets and exceeds the child’s needs - allows the goal of supporting and assisting children to grow in all areas of their lives to be continually and effectively met.

The professionals at Carpe Diem are dedicated to directing children down the path of achieving an individual balance emotionally, intellectually, physically, and spiritually. The Case Managers who
support our dedicated foster parents all have a sound background in child development and behaviour problems, and many years of experience working within the child welfare system. Carpe Diem is also assisted by a consulting psychologist.

Working as a liaison between the Children’s Aid Society, the Carpe Diem family places hard-to-serve foster children in caring and nurturing homes. Adhering to our belief that each child is unique, all of our children are inspired to strengthen their very own person in their day-to-day lives.

What is Treatment Foster Care?

Treatment refers to planned intervention with the aim of assisting and supporting change in a family or individual’s behaviour and attitude. To achieve this, a written, individualized treatment plan that contains clear goals, a set of procedures for achieving those goals, and a process for regularly assessing the result, is developed.

Our Carpe Diem children enjoy a well-structured family environment with consistency and predictability, as well as a therapeutic milieu where they can feel secure to resolve some of their inner conflicts and problems and learn to change their patterns of inter-relationships.

Foster parents are therapeutic when they provide ‘the rituals, smiles, the interest in little things, the daily routines, the talents they nurture,
the interest they stimulate, the hobbies they encourage, the  
friendships they support, the sibling ties they preserve’ and they certainly make a difference. All of these little things may foster in a child the vital senses of belonging, of mattering, of counting. (Robbie Gilligan, 2000 as presented in ONLAC training by Hamilton CAS, 2006).

Children who need foster families have been removed for reasons of neglect, abuse, abandonment or other issues endangering their health and safety. Foster parents provide a temporary, safe home for children in crisis. They are an integral part of the child’s support, treatment, and care programs. Being a foster parent is not simply a passive act of opening one's home and providing food, clothing, and shelter. It is a proactive statement of nurturing, advocacy, and love. It is the act of opening your home and heart to a child in need.

The Children

Children come to Carpe Diem through a referral from a Children’s Aid Society or Family & Children’s Services. Carpe Diem has serviced children from Toronto, the Durham region, Simcoe region to the north, Brampton and Mississauga area, Hamilton, Brantford, Guelph and others. Sometimes children are referred by child welfare agencies specific to a certain religion or culture: we have had Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Native children in our care.

Children come to Carpe Diem with a history of problems within their family/system. These problems might include: violence, substance abuse, homelessness, mental health issues, abusive parenting methods, to name a few. Of course, the children struggle with the results of abuse, neglect, abandonment, and chaotic living situations. 
Some children may also have issues such as attention deficit disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, developmental delays, autism, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

You may see these behaviours in foster homes:
  1. Lack of trust, not engaging with others 
  2. Anger, aggression, temper tantrums
  3.  Sleeping, eating, and toileting difficulties
  4.  Sexual acting out 
  5. Problems with peers, school, activities 
  6.  Defiance, opposition, 'not caring'
  7.  Excessive affection, superficial attachments
Our children cannot trust adults. Many have developed an ‘attachment disorder’ which means that they are unlikely to form the same kind of
meaningful relationships with people that you would hope or expect. Others are diagnosed with problems like ‘oppositional defiance disorder’, or ‘conduct disorder’. In every case, these children deserve to live free from the fear of being abused or abandoned.

Carpe Diem tends to specialize in children from birth to approximately 10 years of age. Many of our foster children, however, have grown up within our family system, so of course we also deal with teenagers (adolescents). We now offer programs for 18 year old crown wards who are ill equipped to live on their own: Independence Preparation Groups, and a semi-independent home for low functioning youth.

A Brief History

Jim Lewis worked for many years in the child welfare system, and became a Professor at Mohawk College within the Child & Youth Work program. When he retired, Jim and Kathy Lewis started Carpe Diem Therapeutic Residential Treatment Homes for Children on June 1, 1999. They started with 15 children in 9 homes and a keen desire to ‘seize the day’ and make a real difference for children.

By June 1, 2000 there were 40 children in 17 homes. Although they didn't want to expand quickly, Jim always found it difficult to turn away from children (or ‘characters’ as he would say) in need. As a result, Carpe Diem expanded into different geographical areas and new staff was hired in those areas. By adding homes and staff slowly but surely, we now have over 100 children in over 70 homes.

November 24, 2010, Shari Durkin took over the position of Executive 
Director, due to the sudden passing of her father Jim Lewis. His legacy will continue on through Carpe Diem’s dedicated staff, foster parents and beautiful children.

September 23, 2012, Blair Lewis took over as Managing Director of Carpe Diem after his sister, Shari Durkin succumbed to a lengthy battle with Cancer. Jim’s legacy continues to be strong and continues on through Carpe Diem's dedicated staff, foster parents and Jim’s little characters.

Feb 1st 2016 Tyler Green was named the Executive Director of the agency. Tyler who has been with Carpe Diem for over ten years and has worn many hats. His last role was Manager of Foster Care prior to
his promotion.

Carpe Diem Locations

Brampton, Burlington, Mississauga, Milton, Barrie, Wasaga Beach, Richmond Hill, Pickering, Oshawa, Scarborough, Toronto, Mount Forest, Palmerston, Harriston, Hamilton, Brantford, Cambridge, Stoney Creek, Grismby, Woodstock.

Each of these areas has at least one Case Manager assigned to assist and support the foster parents. These Case Managers live within the area and are therefore readily available for assistance. There are also monthly Resource Meetings within the area designed to provide ongoing training and support to our foster homes.

For more information about how to become a foster parent or assist our children and agency in other ways, please see our section Join Us.
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