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What a difference a year makes

Attending Midsumma is the highlight of many people’s Summer, but for Anita and Nicole, it was transformative.

After a short visit to the MacKillop Family Services stall at Midsumma 2019, Anita and Nicole decided to pursue their goal of becoming foster carers.

One year later, Anita and Nicole provide vital care to a brother and sister aged 13 and three.

Living in Preston, Anita and wife Nicole had undergone a couple of sessions of IVF which had been unsuccessful. Part of a large extended family, with 15 nieces and nephews between them, foster care was something they’d always planned to do at some stage as both had known other foster carers through work and family and knew that there are many children who need a stable and loving home.

“We got chatting to a foster carer at MacKillop’s Midsumma stand and it really brought the idea of becoming foster carers into focus. A former colleague of mine was a foster carer and I used to talk to him about what it was like. Nicole has close family friends who are foster carers, so together, we thought it was something we could do to help out vulnerable children.

“At Midsumma, we discovered that there is an urgent need for foster carers and asked each other ‘What are we waiting for? This is something we have always wanted to do, there are people here who can support us and help with training, so let’s see if we can do this,’” Anita, who works as a Manager of Risk and Strategy at Jetstar, said.

Shortly after Midsumma, Anita and Nicole applied to become foster carers and after checks and training, they became accredited foster carers.

“Training was really helpful, especially when we got to hear from other carers. They talked about their own experiences and we learned a lot about trauma and how this can impact children in care. We were so nervous before our first placement and we laugh about it now as for us, everything went smoothly.

“We started as respite carers, which means we look after children for a few days so that their longer-term foster carers can have a break. The first time we met, the kids came to our home with their foster carers and case manager, so they could get to know us with people they trusted, see where they would sleep and get to know our home,” Anita said.

“When the kids come to stay, we have the best time and now they stay with us most weekends. We’ve been horse riding, visiting friends and family, going for ice cream and just hanging out together having a regular family weekend. They are fantastic kids and we have a lot of fun together.

"We’re helping make their lives better and they have also transformed our lives. If you’ve thought about being a foster carer, just do it, you’ll make a valuable difference to a vulnerable kid’s life,” added Anita.