“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 able to more easily adapt to his lifestyle.
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 respite care 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 a carer to get a taste,” 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.