An advocate for other children in care

Posted on 09 September 2017 by Rachel Dale

Playing basketball at sunset

Like many 14 year olds, Jack* is passionate about sport, both on the field and as a keen follower of several codes. But he is certainly not your average young man.

Jack has lived in out of home care for most of his life, the past two and a half years with foster carers Anne and Sarah. In that time he has become very much part of the family and has blossomed into a remarkable young man.

When Jack came to live with Anne and Sarah, he had issues of identity, attachment and trust. In the past two and a half years, he has established strong connections in the community, supported and inspired other young people, and become an advocate for children in out of home care.

Jack is active and socially conscious, advocating for the rights of other young children that come into his home. He is particularly passionate about providing stable placements, and through his efforts, has assisted other children to settle into the home. Jack has been a positive role model towards other children and has helped them feel at home with his patience, kindness and care.

Testament to his caring nature, last year Jack attended the Association of Children's Welfare Agencies (ACWA) conference and walked away with a Highly Commended Children and Young People's Award.

Jack has also been actively involved in the local community, trying his hand at an array of sports and activities.

Playing with his local basketball team has been a particular highlight, with football being the focus of his efforts in winter. He has also taken karate classes and represented Victoria twice in the national cross country championships.

Last month, Anne and Sarah went on a family holiday to New Zealand. For Jack, this was his first overseas trip and a chance to meet some extended family. When he arrived, Jack commented on his photo being on their fridge – even though it was the first time they had met, he instantly felt a sense of belonging.

Jack has made many memories in the past two and a half years. For Anne, this is critical to supporting children in their care to thrive. “Ensuring the kids have experiences that build memories, that’s part of our job,” she says.

Anne says that Jack is very much entrenched in the family now and it’s extremely rewarding to see him feeling happy, safe and relaxed. “Being able to explore normal, everyday emotions in a safe and comfortable environment is so important for young people like Jack."

Jack’s growth since living with Anne and Sarah demonstrates the impact a stable, nurturing environment can have. For young people, especially those who have experienced trauma, a strong and supportive foster care placement can be transformative at a pivotal time in their development.

*Name has been changed and model image used to protect privacy.