Steve & Cathy: Why is foster care so rewarding?

Why is foster care so rewarding?

Cathy and Steve have been foster carers for 14 years and currently have four children in their care. They tell us that life is very busy and there is never a dull moment. They have many great stories to share and in this video they tell us about just some of the rewards of being foster carers.

Are you interested in finding out more about foster caring? If so come along to one our information sessions.

Dave: IT Trainer and a foster carer.

Dave is an IT Trainer and a Foster Carer

“I’m the lucky one, not Nathan,” says Dave.

Dave, who lives in the north-western suburbs of Sydney, is a self employed IT Trainer and a foster carer. He had been thinking of becoming a carer for some time and about five years ago he began the process.

“It is a major decision,” says Dave, “so I started by doing some due diligence.” Dave already knew there was a great need for foster carers and that he wanted to help. But he was looking for a way that he could make a difference that fitted into his life. “It was important that this worked for both myself and the child,” he said.

The need for foster carers for children aged 11 to 15 is very high, closely followed by those who are six to 11 years, and every month the demand for foster carers in NSW increases. So Dave’s decision to care for a child 11 years or older not only filled a critical need, but he also felt a child of that age would have some independence and would be easier for Dave to work with, if he needed to make lifestyle changes.

Nathan came into Dave’s life when he was 11 years old and has now been with him for over 4 years. Over this time Dave and Nathan have formed a very tight bond. Dave is a strong advocate for Nathan and early in the placement he helped Nathan and his school deal appropriately with some behavioural issues. Nathan very quickly understood that Dave had his back.

Contact with Nathan’s mother, siblings and grandparents, is important to both Dave and Nathan. Nathan looks forward to seeing his birth family and Dave understands the benefits of having an extended support network. Nathan is involved in local community activities such as Scouts, and as a qualified scuba diving teacher, Dave has taught Nathan to dive. They now enjoy this activity together.

Nathan’s placement is long-term, meaning he will be with Dave until he is 18 or older. But Dave also offers short-term or short-term to other children.

Since 2016 Dave and Nathan have welcomed six boys into their home. Some have stayed for one or two weeks, others for a month or more, and some have stayed with them on more than one occasion. Respite care is needed for children who are in-between placements, and for a variety of other reasons including giving carers a break from what can sometimes be the challenges of foster caring.

The decision to take in a child for respite is always a joint one between Dave and Nathan. “It can sometimes be a bit disruptive, but overall it is a positive experience for both of us,” he says. “And even though respite care differs from long-tem care, it may be a good way for someone who is considering becoming to gain an understanding of what it is like to be a carer,” Dave adds.

Dave says that many people tell him that Nathan is lucky, and while it is obvious that Nathan is in a safe, caring home, Dave strongly believes that he is lucky to have Nathan in his life. He is motivated to see Nathan happy and encourages anyone who is considering foster care to “Go for it!”

For more information about foster caring attend an information session or contact Family Spirit on 13 18 19.

Kate: It’s all about the children.

It’s all about the children.

Kate is a retired Catholic primary school teacher and a foster carer. She became aware of the great need for carers when she attended a Family Spirit information session in the second half of last year, and by January 2020 she was providing respite care for teenage sisters.

After attending the information session, Kate decided she wanted to offer respite and emergency care because that’s where she believed she could make a difference. She was very moved to provide a safe and caring place for children and young people while they were waiting for their forever homes.

Also referred to as short-term care, respite or emergency care is for children who need somewhere to stay for a few days, a few months or up to two years.

In late January, Kate agreed to care for six year old Ellie, whose permanent placement had ended. Initially the plan was for Ellie to stay with Kate for six months, but that has now been extended to 12 months.

“I will never forget the day she (Ellie) arrived at my place,” says Kate. “Here was this little girl, standing in the middle of my lounge room, with a woman she doesn’t know. But I saw an incredible inner strength in her, after all, this was her fourth home in six years!”

In the seven months this pair has been together, Ellie’s confidence and behaviour has markedly improved. “It’s so wonderful to see the development and growth in a child that’s been through trauma.” Kate says. “It’s great to see trust starting to develop.”

Kate draws on many of the skills she developed over her 38 years of teaching. She says that as a carer “you need to be flexible enough to change with the child. If you know the child is having trouble managing their emotions you have to be able to work around that, change your approach if you have to. It’s never going to be the child’s fault …the carer has to take that responsibility.”

According to Kate, the more care, the more understanding and the more love you can give a child, the more you get back. “It’s so wonderful to see a child, who’s been in a daunting or traumatic situation, start to show love.”

There is no doubt that Ellie and Kate have a very tight bond, and even though Kate is providing short-term care for Ellie, they are planning on having a long-term relationship. Ellie has chosen to call Kate Nanna and when Ellie finds her forever home, Kate is looking forward to continuing to support her as her foster Nanna.

Kate believes that as a carer, “you need to be extremely flexible. You need to get rid of your ideas of how a child should be behaving at a certain age.”

She adds, “the community needs to understand that these children are the same as any other child, they’ve just had a lot of life experience compared to children of a similar age.”

Kate admits that it is hard work, but that it is absolutely worth it. “Ellie is worth the effort and so are all of the children in need of care.”

“So take the chance!” recommends Kate, adding that “you should at least go to an information session because that’s where you hear about the children, their needs and about the type of carer you can be.”

For more information about foster caring attend an information session or contact Family Spirit on 13 18 19.

Les & Cathy: Why we became foster carers.

Why we became foster carers

Les and Cathy are short term carers who look after babies straight from hospital. These babies usually stay with them for about 6 months before they are adopted, restored to their families or go into long term care. Les and Cathy say it is busy and emotional but is also very fulfilling and one of the best jobs in the world!

Are you interested in finding out more about foster caring? If so come along to one our information sessions.

Angelo: Who is your special foster carer?

Who is your special foster carer?

Angelo has fond memories of his time with his foster family. He says that all a foster child really wants is to belong and that the love and support he received made him feel that he was part of the family.

Could you provide a safe and happy home for a child in need? If so come along to one our information sessions.