Importance of a life story for children in foster care

An integral part of supporting children and young people in care is developing their individual life stories. This helps to shape their identity, build their sense of belonging, and guide their pathway in life.

For most people, the ability to reflect on their childhood helps develop a sense of self and informs who they are today, particularly around family background and culture. Even just the occasional flick through an old family photo album, looking back at school awards, or sharing childhood memories with the family, can be important experiences.

For many children in care, there may not be a strong connection to their birth family or background, and they may be missing records of notable events and key moments in their life. It falls on the community around them to help support and maintain their unique story.

Family Spirit Carer Support Workers help children create their life stories, by linking children with existing family connections they may have lost and giving children the opportunity to reconnect when it is safe and appropriate to do so.

“Our job is to capture as much of the child’s life story as we can, so they can carry it with them, especially as they grow up and want to share their experiences with their own family.”   

For one 11-year-old girl coming into care, a key milestone was reached despite an initial lack of connection to her mother’s side of the family. Through searching, the Family Spirit team managed to re-establish a connection with her grandfather. Although he was based interstate, a gathering of other family members was in the making, and an open invite was extended for the young girl to join the family get-together.

The young girl was excited by the invitation, and with the support of her current carer, a trip was planned to rural Queensland. This allowed her to reconnect with her culture and meet a large group of her extended family members for the first time.

“It was beautiful to see her connect with cousins her age and to see aunties and uncles embrace and connect with her. There were lots of photos taken across the weekend,” said her Care Worker.

For the foster carer, it was a special experience to be able to walk the journey together, learn more about the young girl’s culture and share in her excitement of a first plane trip. Also, the trip helped the carer to forge a deeper connection with the child and develop skills to be able to help support her understanding of her life story.

Following the trip, family connections have been made and regular updates and information are shared across all parties. There are plans for another family catchup down the track.

Life Story training has been undertaken by the PSP Family Spirit team and they work closely in partnership with the carers to help capture this in a way that is unique for each child.

The main way this is done is with a Life Story book, usually maintained by the carer, which highlights various aspects and moments of the child’s life. The Life Story book can be full of different things, from memories that the child may have, to funny stories or pictures, quotes, drawings, awards, school reports and so much more.

“Just because these children are in care, doesn’t mean moments shouldn’t be captured, just like any other child.”

If it is in the best interest of the child, birth families are part of the growing life story and receive updates so that they can share in the joy of the child’s life.

Children and young people play a leading role in developing their own life stories and, following the Charter of the Rights of the Child, their opinions are heard, and each young person is treated as an individual.

“There are some decisions we may have to make, but it’s being transparent with the child about why we feel it’s the best decision for them.”

Individual voices are captured at several points throughout the year. Children have a say in their future goals and things they want to achieve, including interests and life events that are important to them. They also have a say in any updates shared with their birth families.

“A child’s life story is at the forefront of everything, it’s a top priority and so important for a child to have.”

Family Spirit is an NSW foster care and adoption agency that seeks safe and caring homes for vulnerable children and young people across Sydney and regional areas.   

To find out more about becoming a carer, or foster care in general, register to attend one of our upcoming foster care information sessions by clicking the link below. 

10 top tips for building stronger families

It doesn’t happen by mistake and it’s much more than the sum of its parts, building a strong family takes time and requires all members to work together. So how do you get all the members of your family to function together effectively? You lead the way!


Don’t worry, you’re not alone in this challenge. Whether caring for your own children or children in your care, here are 10 top tips for building stronger families.

  1. Take the time to play and have fun with your family.
  2. Build connections with older relatives and community elders.
  3. Appreciate your family and community – everyone matters!
  4. Encourage each other and offer support.
  5. Participate in local events and get to know your community.
  6. Celebrate achievements, large and small.
  7. Be generous with your time in your family and in your community.
  8. Reduce your stress – remember you need time out too!
  9. Do something with your family that helps others.
  10. Take time out from technology and enjoy family time together.
    For more tips and resources, visit

We proudly support our foster carers to provide the best care possible for children who are not able to live with their birth families. To find out more about becoming a carer, or foster care in general, click the link below and register to attend one of our upcoming information sessions.

Urgent care needed for Melanie

Family Spirit is in urgent need of a carer for a young girl. *Melanie is 9 years old, the youngest of eight children, she loves connecting with her family over the phone and at family gatherings but is unable to live with them.

Melanie needs a caring home, a stable environment and role models to help her feel safe and secure. She loves gymnastics, making up dances, and animals, and also enjoys taking time to relax with activities like colouring in and reading.

Melanie is happy to engage with other children during activities and at school but still needs to be supported to learn appropriate social and peer group interactions. A female carer with no other children would be the best fit for Melanie.

A long-term solution would be great for Melanie, but if you know anyone that could help out even in the short term, we would love to hear from them.

No experience is necessary, and age is no barrier, all that is required is a safe home and a commitment to providing the care and support that Melanie needs.

If you know someone who could help Melanie please share. For further information contact us or call our team on 13 18 19.
*name changed to protect privacy and model used in image

Family Spirit embraces the ARC framework

Our Therapeutic Case Managers are trained and supported in implementing the Attachment, Regulation, and Competency (ARC) framework, a trauma-informed therapeutic model which identifies the three core domains frequently impacted for children and young people.

This framework supports the individual needs of children and young people and assists us to build an understanding and awareness of their experiences to enable us to create safe, nurturing and stable relationships and homes.

Therapeutic Case Manager, Leigh, shares her experience following the ARC training

“ARC has enabled me to be more curious about the children’s experiences and ask more challenging questions in the work that I do. It has helped me with the foundations of building a closer relationship with both the young people, foster carers and families.”

“It has made me feel more comfortable in asking about the child’s experience, whilst also being more curious about the carers’ experiences and given me the tools to reflect on these experiences together within the work we do together. I feel as though this is significant as the caregiver also needs to know that we as the agency are invested in the child’s life and their life.”

Leigh also explains the benefit for caregivers in understanding the ARC framework approach…

“The framework helps with the linkages of early childhood development, attachment and trauma and supporting the families to understand that every behaviour has a meaning. It also helps us to learn how the caregiver has attuned with their child and gives them the opportunity to reflect on this within a safe space in the caregiving system.”