Foster and Kinship Carer Week is an annual event that is dedicated to acknowledging the amazing people who have chosen to become foster carers. In Queensland, there are currently 6,017 foster carers. Young people and children need safe and caring homes to thrive, and we are grateful for the continuous efforts of foster carers every day.
There is a disproportionate ratio of carers (6,017) to children and young people in out-of-home care (11,400). Many people aren't in a position to be a foster carer, but they can still make a difference.
But first...a little more information about becoming a foster carer
There is no doubt that Queensland needs more foster carers. Each year, more children and young people are placed in out-of-home care. For example, between June 2017 and June 2021, the number of children in out-of-home care across the country rose from 43,100 to 46,200. However, the good news is that the number of foster carers in Queensland has also risen, and it's making a difference.
People mistakenly believe that becoming a carer is a full-time commitment. However, there are carer options available for those who lead busy lifestyles. Respite and emergency care are examples of shorter-term options that can last a few days to a few weeks. Alan is an example of a foster carer that offers short-term care. It allows for increased flexibility to take breaks between placements, and can work around your schedule.
That's not to say you cannot take a break as a full-time carer. There are plenty of opportunities to take well-earned breaks and when you do, the young person gets temporarily placed with a respite carer (like Alan!).
At Anglicare Southern Queensland, we believe almost anyone can apply to become a foster carer, regardless of age, gender, sexuality, or cultural and religious affiliations. If you're over 18, in good health and want to make a difference, you can apply.
Donating to foster care
Another way to make a difference for children in out-of-home care is donating. When it comes to donating, every little bit helps; from monetary donations that help to facilitate foster care programs, through to physical donations.
Lots of children and young people in out-of-home care arrive with just the clothes on their back. They generally don't have time to gather their belongings, especially during emergency situations. Physical items that can be donated include clothing and shoes, nappies, toys, hygiene products and toiletries, stationary and books.
If you would like to donate physical essentials to children and young people in care, please contact Anglicare Southern Queensland Fundraising on 1300 244 683 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monetary donations can go a long way in terms of providing meaningful assistance to young people and their carers. Monetary donations can help with:
Providing short holiday breaks for carers and children
Camps for children and young people as a positive respite option where respite care cannot be sourced
Cultural activities/groups for children and young people to enhance cultural awareness and connection
Conferences and training for carers to enhance skills and development to better support young people in placement (outside of existing, funded support)
Counselling services for families
Supporting families achieve reunification.
If you would like to make a monetary contribution to support foster carers and young people in care, please visit giving.anglicaresq.org.au.
Increasing your awareness of foster and kinship care
There are many misconceptions about foster and kinship care. Misconceptions lead people to feel negatively about certain topics and can restrict them from creating change.
Some of the biggest misconceptions about foster care include that only certain people can apply, that family reunification isn't the end goal of foster care, and that children in care become disconnected from their culture. These are simply untrue.
For more than 30 years, our organisation has been supporting diverse carers. The children in foster care come from all walks of life, so having a diverse range of carers is the best possible outcome for us. It doesn't matter if you're single, renting, retired, studying, or a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. None of these things matter when it comes to a foster care application.
We believe that the end goal in foster care is to achieve a successful reunification. Where possible, we will work with carers and the young person’s birth family to ensure that the young person can return to their care if it is safe to do so.
As a foster carer recruitment organisation, Anglicare Southen Queensland takes steps to ensure young people remain immersed in their cultural upbringing. One example is ensuring First Nations children and young people in care are Connected to Country. If we can, we will try and place the child in care with their own kin. If we cannot, we provide their carers with resources and support to connect the young person with their Country or culture.
We wish to extend a big thank you to foster and kinship carers across the state of Queensland. Thank you for opening your hearts and homes to young people and providing them with safe and secure places during their challenging times.