Vulnerable families in the Pilbara region of Western Australia are unable to get the support they need due to a shortage of foster carers to provide nurturing homes for children who are unable to live safely with their own families.
Scarcity of foster carers is an issue in every state in Australia but local foster care agency, MacKillop Family Services, says this issue is critical in the Pilbara where existing carers are taking on increasing numbers of children with no respite care available to support them.
Kellie Goes, MacKillop’s State Director for WA, says people often don’t realise that there is such a demand for foster carers in their own region.
“No one wants to see children have to leave their communities to be cared for, but when we don’t have enough local foster carers to look after the children who need that support, there is no option but to take them to metro areas where we have greater numbers of foster carers,” Kellie said.
“We have amazing foster carers here in the Pilbara who do an amazing job, but we just don’t have enough to meet the demand. We also want to support our existing carers by providing respite care for the children in their care. This means that people who are unable to provide foster care on a full-time basis can look after children for a weekend or for a few days during the holidays, this gives full-time carers a break and means children get to know and trust other adults who are there to look out for them.
“Often, people who are new to foster care start out as respite carers as it enables them to see how foster care works for them and allows them to get to know some of the children and young people who need their help,” added Kellie.
MacKillop is scheduling two online information sessions for prospective foster carers in the Pilbara on Wednesday 21 July at 6:30pm and Saturday 24 July at 11am.
These information sessions will detail the support available to carers and let them know about the different types of foster care and how it can work for different lifestyles.
“Often people assume they can’t be foster carers because they work full time, don’t own their home, or aren’t in a relationship. That’s simply not true. Foster carers come from all walks of life, the most essential criteria is that they care, have the capacity to create a safe and nurturing home, and have room in their house to support vulnerable children.
“Foster carers are part of a larger support network, you’re not on your own. We have therapists, case managers and therapeutic practitioners who all work together to support both the child and the foster carer and once they start looking after children, many of our carers tell me it’s the best thing they’ve ever done,” added Kellie.
To join an upcoming information session, visit mackillop.org.au to register and a link for the online information session will be emailed to you or call 1300 791 677.