Celebrating the contribution of foster carers

Helping young: Kellie Grady and her partner Mitch Raven, from Nowra, are young foster carers.
Helping young: Kellie Grady and her partner Mitch Raven, from Nowra, are young foster carers.

Foster Care Week runs from September 10 to 16 and highlights the importance of fostering and the need for many more foster carers in NSW.

Foster Care Week is a time to acknowledge and celebrate the wonderful contribution that foster carers make to keeping NSW’s most vulnerable children and young people safe in loving and stable homes, according to the Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies (ACWA).

ACWA says it is also using the week to encourage people wishing to help children in out-of-home care achieve permanency in their lives, to consider the question: “Which type of carer could you be?”

Fostering is a jumping off point to achieving different forms of permanency for children who have had upheaval in their lives and includes fostering: to support change in a family so kids can get safely back home; to adopt a child; and with the intention of becoming a life-long guardian for a child. It’s all about finding the right path for the child and their carer.

Child protection is everyone’s business, and with almost 20,000 children in NSW unable to live at home, there is an urgent need for many more foster carers.

ACWA chief executive Andrew McCallum says while public awareness of the need for people to provide loving and stable homes for NSW’s most vulnerable children and young people has grown hugely in recent years, understanding of the range of caring options is still limited.

“The renewed focus on permanency means that the type of commitment needed from foster carers is changing,” Mr McCallum said.

“We need to attract people with a strong desire to support children to return home to their birth families, as well as those who wish to take the more permanent step towards open adoption or guardianship.

“For Aboriginal children, this might mean putting your hand up to keep them safe and cared for in their own community, helping to identify family members that can look after them until they’re able to return home, or providing respite care to families in need of a break.”

People interested in finding out more about the range of ways to provide care can visit the Fostering NSW website: www.fosteringnsw.com.au or call 1800 236 783.

There is also a huge need for carers with the ability to offer emergency care to children when they are first removed from their homes.

“Providing immediate care to children at risk of harm is a vital service to the community,” Mr McCallum said.

“This requires people not only to be flexible and responsive, but to have attributes such as patience, empathy and resilience.

“We know there are many people across NSW who care deeply about the social injustices that can leave families struggling to care for their children. That’s why this Foster Care Week we’re asking those people: “Which type of carer could you be?’”

Everyday people from all walks of life can provide care, from single people, young or old, married and same sex couples and caring professionals, to empty nesters and people from different cultures and religious backgrounds.

Like the amazing foster and kinship carers being honoured around NSW this week, you could help a child find their “family for life” and give them a sense of belonging, stability and security that could change the course of their whole future. 

To hear what carers have to say about fostering and open adoption, go to The Foster Forum:www.fosteringnsw.com.au/forums/forum/fostering-nsw-foster-forum/or join the conversation on Facebook www.facebook.com/ACWAFosteringNSW