The Dubbo community is urgently being called upon to help as children in the region as young as two can't live safely at home.
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The "critical shortage" of carers in Dubbo has led to a number of young people being left without a home to call their own.
My Forever Family NSW, a government-funded program operated by Adopt Change that supports, trains and advocates for foster and kinship carers, guardians and adoptive parents, put on an information session in Dubbo for community members who might be interested in fixing the shortage and helping vulnerable young people.
Renée Carter, CEO of Adopt Change operating the My Forever Family NSW program, is urging the community to open their homes and their hearts to kids in need.
"We are asking people to urgently come together to find homes for children in their local community. We cannot rest while we have little ones who don't have a place to call home," she said.
"Supporting children and teens to stay in their local area in a safe, nurturing home will not only help them thrive, but also allow them to stay connected with their school, friends and other familiarities which they very much need when everything else has changed for them. We need to do everything we can now to ensure a positive childhood and trajectory for our children."
Ms Carter said the need is real within the area, giving the Daily Liberal profiles of just some of the kids who are looking for a home.
The names have been changed for the children's safety.
The children in the community come from a range of cultural backgrounds and carers from Aboriginal and culturally diverse homes are welcomed.
Ms Carter said it was positive to see people that were interested in becoming carers attend their information session.
"We have some good leads but we still need to hear from more people," she said.
The Department of Communities and Justice NSW data for 2020 shows that a staggering 19 children and young people per 1000 are living in out-of-home care in Dubbo and Western NSW region compared with nine in 1000 across the whole of NSW.
Ms Carter said the issue Dubbo is currently facing is because of the economic environment post COVID-19.
"It is usually really hard to find carers but it's even harder at the moment, I think it's quite a challenging time, people aren't necessarily thinking about opening a home right now and adding to their family or bringing in a child," she said.
The data shows that more children in the area are being removed from their family due to concerns around abuse and neglect, according to Ms Carter.
"We do need short term carers where the goal is to really look after the child while the mum and dad are able to get some help and become in a position to care for their child again, and it is ideal if a child can return home," she said.
Ms Carter said it was quite new for them to be trying to find homes for children as young as two-years-old.
"I haven't seen that before and I think that's symptomatic that we really do have a shortage because it's usually not difficult to find a home for a young child so when we found out that we've got children as young as two who need a home, we thought this needed to be highlighted to the local community," she said.
It's not about being superhuman or having special skills, it's actually just being able to provide that patient care and support.- CEO Renee Carter
While there are different care options available to suit individual and family circumstances, the current urgent need is to find long-term safe and stable homes as well as emergency carers.
"Whilst we understand that being a carer for kids is not a one size fits all, and there are many ways you can help children thrive, it is important to remember that childhood is fleeting, and for children like Henry, Tim, and Poppy, they need someone to step up now," Ms Carter said.
"It's really about people that have got some time and some spare space in their homes and in their life to be able to provide those everyday experiences for kids, like hot meals and taking them to sport, someone to tuck them in at night and read them a story or take them to school."
Ms Carter said it was important to note that there are different types of care, with part time weekend care available for those who can't commit to being a full time carer.
"They can be that person that takes them on different adventures and teaches them to cook and takes them to the movies and does fun things or it can be an empty nester who has got a lot of experience with kids or people that have got flexibility that can take a call in the middle of the night for emergency care," she said.
An over representation of Aboriginal children in care has also led to a call out for Indigenous community members to come forward to look into the potential of becoming a kinship or foster carer.
"It really doesn't matter if you're single, married, renting, own your home or come from different cultural background, as long as you have space in your home and your heart and some time then all the training and screening is provided and then support for after you become a carer as well," Ms Carter said.
Ms Carter said if people are interested in becoming a carer it was definitely worth finding out more.
"We're at a real crisis point and it's such a vital thing they can be doing if they really want to make an impact on the lives of children in their community," she said.
"It's not about being superhuman or having special skills, it's actually just being able to provide that patient care and support."
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