Being a single, gay man, Jason* knew his dream of becoming a dad wasn't going to be easy. At the age 34, he took a leap of faith and began the rigorous process to become a foster carer.
Once approved, he didn't have long to wait, but it didn't happen all at once. Siblings Robert* and Mikaela* came to Jason for short periods in a respite care arrangement over eight months before entering full-time care. For Mikaela, who had experienced multiple placements and suffered from anxiety, it was critical to find a stable environment quickly.
"The respite care proved to be an important transition time for everyone," Jason said. "The children gradually began to develop trust in me, which really helped with the transition."
Jason knew becoming a foster carer would involve challenges but found the online training he completed during the assessment process, along with a personal behaviour management plan for each child, very helpful.
Jason said the biggest challenges for him were the kinds of things most working parents have to deal with, like arranging after school activities and keeping both children occupied at the same time when they wanted different things. "I have close family who help out and my employer is also very supportive.
"I admit that sometimes it felt as if I was getting nowhere, but the Challenge Community Services case worker has been fantastic and always there when I needed her," he said. "Now the children are both more settled, I feel as though we have turned a major corner."
For any single person or couple wanting to care for a child, Jason urged them to just do it. "Don't let other people who don't understand talk you out of it, it can feel like an enormous step, but it's an extraordinary feeling to give a child a loving, safe, and stable home," he said. "As a foster carer my life has so much more meaning and I love every minute of it, I wouldn't change a thing."
If you have ever thought about Foster Care, take the leap today. You could change a child's life and Challenge Community Services will be there to support you every step of the way. To find out more, visit www.challengecommunity.org.au.
* Names changed for legal purposes.