When Jo McInnes became a foster carer 18 months ago, she had no idea that in less than a year, her daughter Maddie and partner Jeremy, would also be inspired to put their hands up to become foster carers.
Jo, from Cobden in south west Victoria, had thought about becoming a carer for some time as she had a friend who was a foster carer and knew that there was a shortage of people to offer safe homes to vulnerable children.
“Shortly after my daughter Maddie moved out of home into her own place I saw a Facebook post about the need for foster carers in our area. As I now had some space in my home, it prompted me to make an enquiry to see what was involved and if I could become a foster carer,” Jo said.
I really enjoyed the training and found it very useful. We were given a realistic insight into what is involved and I feel it really helped me prepare.” Jo added, “You also learn a lot about your own background around your family history and relationships.
“Maddie came along to support me for the last day of training, never thinking at the time that foster care was for her, but the seed was planted!” laughed Jo.
Jo works full-time in finance and after accreditation, she started as a respite foster carer.
“I help out by providing care at the weekend for nine-year-old Lara*. This gives her full-time foster carers some time to recharge their batteries and also means that Lara has another trusted adult in her life. We have a great time together and she comes with me to play golf, she has her own little putter and everyone loves her at the golf club.”
Seeing her mum make a difference to a child’s life inspired Maddie and her partner Jeremy to think about the positive influence they too could make as foster carers.
“To be honest, foster care was never on our radar until Mum started talking about it. She was very enthusiastic about the training and when we heard there are more kids who need homes than there are carers to look after them, it made us start to think about playing our part,” Maddie said.
Seeing first-hand how foster care supports vulnerable kids and their families encouraged us to enquire about becoming foster carers. We are currently taking part in online training and accreditation so that we too can become part of the local foster care community.
Jo hopes to inspire others to think about becoming foster carers.
“I’ve met so many people who say they’ve thought about foster care and my response is ‘stop thinking about it and make that enquiry!” Jo said. “You don’t have to be a social worker or have specific qualifications; you need to care about the well-being of children and young people.
“Foster care is a team effort. You’re not on your own as there’s support from your case manager, therapeutic practitioners, health professionals and also from other foster carers. I’m delighted to see my family become part of that support system and helping kids who need safe homes feel loved and valued;” Jo added.
*Name changed to protect privacy