A plea has been sent out for individuals and families to consider becoming foster carers with a staggering increase in the number of children in care.
A minimum of 65 new foster carers are urgently needed in Western NSW, with a 373 per cent rise in the number of children taken into care across the past two decades, according to Family and Community Services (FACS).
FACS Western NSW executive district director Jo Lawrence said last year about 300 children entered Out of Home Care in the area because they were unable to stay with their families.
“We urgently need local families and individuals to put up their hand and say ‘I can help a little one’ because these children deserve to feel special and worthy and loved,” Ms Lawrence said.
The total number of children in care would almost fill Caltex Park twice over - it's staggering.Jo Lawrence
Carer Sharon Cheney, who looks after four long-term children including a four-month-old baby, said carers had to be patient, nurturing, and have a passion for children.
“The children have come from backgrounds of violence, drug abuse or worse. They have all been effected in some way,” she said.
“I love the fact that the children in my care, I’m meeting their needs. It makes our house a happy home.
“I love the fact they can be free and happy and nurtured.”
As the children got older they could display challenging behaviour, Ms Cheney said, but it was because “they’ve been to hell and back”.
Ms Lawrence said children and young people were taken into care through no fault of their own, often because they had been abused or neglected.
Next year the number of young people in Out of Home Care is projected to reach 22,400.
“If you put those figures into perspective, the total number of children in care would almost fill Caltex Park twice over-it’s staggering- and the numbers are increasing,” Ms Lawrence said.
Two information sessions will be held in Dubbo for anyone considering becoming a foster carer.
The sessions will be held at Western Plains Cultural Centre on Tuesday from 10am-12pm and 5pm to 7pm.
Call Fostering NSW on 1800 236 783 to register interest.