This Foster Care Week (12 – 18 September), local foster care agency MacKillop Family Services, is focusing attention on the urgent need of foster carers to provide stable, secure, long-term care for children and young people who are unable to live safely in their own homes.
The long term effects of COVID-19 has led to a reduction in applications for new foster carers at a time when nearly 48,000 children living in out of home care in Australia are in need of support.1
MacKillop’s Jane Turner, based in Grafton, says many people in the community ae surprised to learn there is a critical shortage of foster carers within their own local area.
“People think foster care is something that is needed in other communities or only in larger cities. But right across Australia, in every local town and community, for a wide variety of reasons, there are kids who need safe homes where they are nurtured and secure.
“We know that stability is key to a young person’s wellbeing as is keeping them within their local community where they can maintain connections and thrive in a familiar environment. We are putting the call out for people to think about how they can support local children by opening up their home and making that difference to a child’s life.”
Becoming foster carers has been life affirming for sisters Bec and Susie from Grafton.
“I spent a long time wondering if I could be a foster carer, before finally taking the plunge and making an enquiry,” Bec said. “I am so glad that I did; being part of a team supporting a young child to flourish and be happy is one of the most rewarding things I have done. Susie and I are nurses, and we love having children in our lives.
“When I tell people I am a foster carer, they think you have to be some kind of superhero, but it’s not like that. You just have to have love and space in your heart and your home for a kid who needs help. I also believe you get back far more than you put in. If it’s something you’ve been thinking about, take the next step and find out if foster care is for you,” added Bec.
Foster carers come from diverse backgrounds; you can be married, single, in same sex relationships, working or retired, own or rent your home - the most essential criteria is that you have the capacity to create a safe and nurturing home to support vulnerable children. Carers are also able to choose to do different types of foster care, such as respite or emergency care. Foster carers are part of a larger support network, working with health professionals, case managers and who support both the child and carer.
If you would like more information on becoming a foster carer, visit mackillop.org.au or call 1300 791 677.