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Finding the right balance to support a vulnerable child

Seeing a small child shake off her reserve and gain the confidence to assert her independence is the best reward foster carer, Kristy Montague could ask for.

Kristy and husband Shaun, from Port Hedland, have been foster carers for a year and they love the hustle, bustle and sometimes the chaos that comes with welcoming a child into your home.

“Our son, Max, is four so we thought we knew what to expect when we heard we were accredited as foster carers. Little Freya* was two when she came to us and we’ve all taken a while to adapt, but it’s been worth every minute.”

Kristy, Shaun and Max met Freya twice before she came to live with them, so they could all begin to know each other.

“Initially Freya was very reserved and quiet. She started to get comfortable with us quite quickly, but would get very upset when people she didn’t know would come to visit. I have grown up children and she would cry when they came to visit and just want to sit on my lap or cling to me and not interact.

“It’s so funny to see her little character develop over the last 12 months. She has grown into an assertive, much more confident little girl who has a strong personality. I love to see her playing and laughing with my older kids now as it shows how far she has come.”

Kristy, who works as a Human Resources Accounts Manager, says Max and Freya have developed a lovely bond.

“He is very protective of her and Max loves to come with me to pick up Freya from kinder. They get along very well, but have the usual disagreements most kids have and we have all had to learn to adapt to another little person being in the house. It’s not always easy when someone else wants the toy you are playing with right now, but they work it out,” laughs Kristy.

Kristy comes from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background and so does Freya, and they are working hard to maintain that connection to community and culture.

“Freya has some contact with her Mum, who is just not in a place to care for a child at the moment. She also sees her Gran and I am delighted that she will grow up knowing who she is, where she came from and that she will remain tightly connected to her community and culture,” said Kristy.

Kristy had thought about becoming a foster carer for a while before she looked into the process.

“I have Max and my grown up kids, but Shaun and I heard there was a need for foster carers in the area, so we thought it was something we could put our hands up to do. We are so glad we did as it has been great for Freya and also for our family.

“Now, when I’m dealing with a stubborn, determined three-year-old, who is no longer afraid to tell everyone what she thinks, I’m so proud that we’ve helped her gain the confidence to be the true little person that she is. I tell my friends to think about being foster carers, as long as you’re prepared to persevere and be resilient, you’ll make a huge difference to a young person’s life and it will be one of the best things you’ll ever do.”

*Name changed to protect privacy