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Care and space to ‘be a kid’

Kat was first prompted to become a foster carer through her own lived experience in foster care. Having lived in many homes in her teens, then supported to live in an independent flat from the tender age of sixteen, Kat intimately understood the importance of a safe and stable home. She knew that even if she helped just one child, she would make a significant difference.

Six years ago, Kat became a foster carer. Thomas* joined her family most recently, after experiencing multiple broken placements.

“We run a busy farm. My partner works full-time, and we have three children of our own. We wanted to support a child in care, but we needed to consider how they would fit into our loud, busy family,” Kat said.

The farm, sitting on 300 acres, complete with cows, chooks, ducks and horses, turned out to be just the right fit for Thomas. The family’s busy routine, and the process of caring for the animals had a calming effect, and gave Thomas the space to be a kid, and take part in farm life.

Kat also noticed the positive impact on her own children, with the children growing up side by side and the experience making them, in Kat’s words, ‘more worldly and more understanding’. She notes however it has its challenges. Thomas’ autism diagnosis and behavioural challenges, as well as adjusting to living with a new family, required a carer who could communicate and apply boundaries, and manage behaviours through a trauma-informed lens.

Kat has seen her family grow in their understanding of disability, with lots of learnings along the way. Development of a daily routine has given Thomas stability and with lots of warmth and praise, provided him the space to feel stable and secure. Thomas is growing in confidence every day, and continues to thrive and be louder and busier than most of his foster family.

*Child’s name changed to protect privacy