About four years ago I decided to give foster caring a go. There was no real moment in the lead up to the decision. My reason was more around general observation that some kids need a little a bit more guidance, and that if I could give this to them and make a difference then that’s a good thing.
I’m in my early 30s, own a home and have a fulltime job. I have a great network of friends so I felt comfortable that there would be a support network available if I needed it.
Initially I did some respite care with younger kids, ranging in age from 20 months to five years. It was hard work, and I realised that I was probably more suited to care for older kids. For the last few years I’ve had a teenager and a child in primary school that I care for.
The reasons why I continue to care are based purely on what I’ve seen. The teenager has stability and I feel I am helping him achieve what he wants out of life. The younger one had no direction when he arrived, he was skipping school and found it difficult to communicate how he was feeling. Over the last two years I have seen such a change, he is emotionally and academically different. His school participation is up and he is happy about life in general. He recognises what he wants in life and he won’t accept going back to how he was.
As a foster carer, my advice is that you need to be a parent figure first and foremost and have boundaries and rules in place. If you act like a friend, then you lose traction.
We try and deal with all issues in home, before we take it externally. I do speak with our case practitioner from time to time when I need advice or someone to listen, and I find comfort in being able to discuss issues with them.
It’s very rewarding, and I will continue to be a foster carer for as long as I can make positive changes in the lives of kids in my care.
*To protect the identities of the children and carers in this story, names and images have been changed.