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A lifetime of setting kids up to succeed

A career in nursing and working with people with a disability was perfect preparation for close to 30 years of providing a safe home for more than 100 children and young people.

Geelong based Wia, and her now deceased husband Ian, loved being parents. When their own children had grown up and left home, Wia saw an advertisement about foster care and after talking to Ian, they decided to make an enquiry.

“We loved a busy house with lots of kids and young people around. With our own kids gone, we were sitting in a four-bedroom house with lots of room and knew we could help with foster care.

“I can’t believe that is almost 30 years ago – time flies when you’re busy and having fun,” laughs Wia.

Now in her 70s, Wia is thinking about hanging up her foster care shoes but is continuing to open her home for respite care while supporting two young adults, aged 18 and 24 who have lived with Wia in long-term care since they were two and four–year-olds.

Once you become a foster carer, it’s hard to say no when you hear about a child who needs support. That’s why I want to see many more families in the community think about how they can help. There are so many kids who would thrive in a safe, secure home and as a carer, you get back as much as you put in when you see the difference you make to a kid’s life.

– Wia

Wia is also a carer for an 11-year-old boy, who has made amazing progress over the last four and a half years in Wia and Ian’s care.

“When Conor* came to us, he was a very fussy eater, his sleep pattern was disrupted, and he was not concentrating at school. The change in him has been amazing and he is now a star pupil at his school!

“We discovered that Conor loves routine; he likes to know what is going to happen next and feels secure in a calm environment. He loves food now and eats a healthy range of food, including lots of veg and sushi is his favourite.”

Wia adds that Conor was very close to Ian, and she believes he would respond well to a male foster carer or a couple.

“Like any young boy, Conor’s main interest is skate boarding, Lego, and gaming – which we restrict to a set amount of time. He is fascinated by the fire brigade and wants to be a fireman when he grows up.”

Although Wia is about to retire from full-time foster care, she is committed to supporting Conor to settle into a new home.

“Ï will continue to support Conor and his new carers by providing respite care and being there to answer any questions. Conor will still be part of all our family celebrations and events. I’ve kept in touch with most of the young people who have stayed with us over the years and Conor will be no different, he will always have a place in my heart.

“I’m just getting too old to take him to sporting events or go running around the footy field, but I know Conor will thrive and achieve great things with the support of another great carer.”

*Name changed to protect privacy