Every December and January, we think about what we want to achieve. Often, they are goals we have been thinking about for a long time like finally taking that holiday or making the step in our career.
Geelong resident Abby Walsh had been thinking about her goal for 9 years. Then, early this year, she picked up the phone and made the first step towards becoming a foster carer.
Accredited in October, Abby and her family received their first child in November, who they provided temporary care for while a more permanent placement could be found.
“It was so great, so rewarding and so fulfilling on so many levels. To see the progression and how much he came into himself was incredible. He loved having boundaries and routines in place and he thrived in the two and half weeks we had him,” Abby said.
Abby said foster care was always something she wanted to do: “I’ve always said, ‘If we can, we should’. If I can open my home, I should. We’re in a position now where we can, so we are,” Abby said.
Kylie Jackson, a foster carer in Melbourne’s South East has been opening her home to children for over 25 years.
“I started fostering when I was 23 years old. I am a preschool mothercraft nurse and I could see the need in the community for people to get some more support and I thought that’s something that I can do, I can help them with their children and help give them that support so that we can keep them safe and hopefully keep them together,” Kylie said.
Kylie has provided short-term, long-term, emergency and respite care to over 200 children, all while raising three children of her own who are now all teenagers.
“My three children always say they’re one day going to become foster parents because they’ve lived it and they enjoy it so much and they can see how important it is and what a positive experience it is,” Kylie said.
16-year old Sarah (not her real name) has been in care since the age of three. She has spent most of her childhood living in group homes, with a rotating roster of paid carers. This year, she was placed with first-time foster carers Mike and Renee and Sarah is beginning to experience the benefits of a stable, consistent and caring family home.
“They make me feel like I belong. We painted my room together; we shopped for my formal dress together; they include me in everything,” Sarah said.
“We have fun talking about my future and how I will always be included in their family. This makes me feel special. I finally feel that I have found my home and I am working through my past hurt and harm. I sometimes can't believe that I am now in a family doing what families do. I feel so lucky… I hope they can one day understand how important they are to me,” she said.
With stability of care, Sarah now feels safe to just be a teenager. Since living with her carers, she has been able to better engage in education, recently receiving her first A, and is volunteering in the community, supporting other children in care.
Abby encourages those who have thought about foster care to make 2020 the year to find out if foster care is right for you.
“Go and do the training and hear about the true impact that you can make on a child’s life because the training really was a massive turning point for my mindset.
“In the training you learn more about trauma, the foster care process and how much support you have as a carer. It all comes together to make you feel empowered to make that decision to keep moving forward with it,” Abby said.
To find out more about foster care, call MacKillop Family Services on 1300 791 677 or click on the link below.