Families Week this year went by without the usual celebrations within the community. Where 130,000 Australians would usually register to attend events during the annual week in May, this year they celebrated within their homes.
To mark Families Week this year, MacKillop Family Services launched its COVID Connections Photo and Activity Challenge. Foster carers were encouraged to engage in daily activities in their family home and submit photos online to capture the memories of their foster child during what will always be known as a historic time.
Each day, for 14 days, MacKillop provided a theme such as colour, tradition, or music, and a suggested activity for each. For those feeling adventurous, a Lego, Master Chef and Kindness challenge were suggested against each theme. Children were also encouraged to produce their own interpretation of the daily theme.
The project sought to inspire foster carers to connect in different ways with their foster child, spark creativity in the family home, and encourage record keeping.
Foster carers Sonia and Mark engaged in the challenge, submitting photos of the four-year old in their care baking, painting in the garden, playing dress ups, and playing music.
“It was fun, she loved having her photo taken. We rarely go past a day without her photo being taken,” Sonia said.
“She enjoyed the challenges, particularly painting pebbles. Any of the activities that had her outside, in the back yard. She loves being outside,” she said.
Sonia and Mark have been fostering for over 10 years and have cared for over a dozen children. For the past four years, they have been caring for a young girl with ongoing medical needs, who they have had in their care since she was five months old, following two months of medical training.
“We had to pull her out of Kinder as soon as the pandemic hit. Due to her medical condition, she is immune compromised, so is high risk,” Sonia said of the impact of COVID on her family.
“She’s naturally a cuddly little girl, she’s very sensory and loves handholding. We’ve had to explain she can’t do that in public anymore. She’s non-verbal so even though she is continuing to connect with friends online, she very much misses seeing them in person.
“We’ve kept her very busy during this period. We’ve continued sessions with her medical specialists, and even though she can’t play soccer with her little Kickers team, we are continuing to play in backyard,” Sonia said.
As restrictions ease, Sonia is looking forward to engaging more in the community and taking her family to the park and the playground.
“Knowing she can have friends around will make her day,” Sonia said.
Sonia and Mark are in the process of moving to Permanent Care for the girl in their care which will secure her ongoing placement with them.
“We always said we’d be foster carers and we’re so glad we are,” Sonia said.