kids

"Why foster care is the most rewarding thing we've ever done."

Fostering Connections
Thanks to our brand partner, Fostering Connections

Becoming a foster carer is something Kate, 32, says she always thought about doing. Kate knew more foster carers were needed in our community to support children who can’t live with their family, and thought there was something she could do to help.

So, about a year ago, Kate started a conversation with her partner, Anita.

Foster carers are needed to provide homes to children who can’t live with their families on temporary, short-term and long-term basis. And both her and Anita had the time, space and resources to provide a home for a child or young person who needed it.

That’s where their journey to become foster carers began.

The Melbourne-based professionals attended an information session through what would later become their agency, Berry Street, and got to know a bit more about what it would be like to become foster carers together.

Kate tells Mamamia, “We knew it sounded like the right match for us so we went and did the training. By the time we got to the end of the training, we knew being foster carers was definitely for us.”

"We knew it sounded like the right match for us." Image supplied.

After the information night, the pair participated in a couple of Saturdays of training where they were given advice and support and from there, they began filling in applications.

"We had someone come out to our house on a few occasions who talked us through the realities of foster care and our suitability for it. They then put together a report and sent it to an assessment panel who accredited Anita and I to become foster carers," Kate says.

As there is always a discussion about a child with the foster carers before they are placed, Kate and Anita then began having conversations about who they would bring into their three-bedroom home.

The pair had always thought they would foster a younger child, but when they heard about Marisa* and got to know a bit about her, Kate and Anita thought it would be a good fit and the teenager was placed in their care.

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"There was definitely an adjustment period and having a teenager in the house took getting used to. It made us remember what we were like as teenagers," Kate says.

Kate says getting used to having Marisa in the house involved the three of them taking the time to get to know each other. Marisa also needed to learn to trust them and get used living in their house.

"A lot of what we need to support Marisa with is around negotiating boundaries. If something comes up or there's something we need to address, we sit down and have a conversation if either party needs a situation resolved. Having these conversations hasn't been as hard as we thought it would," she says.

Then when Kate and Anita were looking after Aidan*, a toddler on a short respite placement for another carer on the weekend, down the track he became in need of longer term care. He was a "fabulous little boy" and, with the support of their foster care agency, the pair decided to take him on a longer term.

Foster carers Anita and Kate. Image supplied.

"Having two foster children was pretty hard to start with. We all had to learn about each other and get everyone into a routine that works for us. That was a bit of a challenge at the start. But now it's really good," Kate says.

"We're lucky there are a lot of activities that appeal to all of us. We can go to the beach or we can go to the pool and everyone's having a great time together. Over New Year we went into the city and saw the family fireworks together which was also really special for us to go out as a foursome and have a night out."

Aside from being able to spend time together as a family, Marisa and Aidan share a "cute bond" according to Kate.

"Aidan will come and sit on Marisa's lap and they'll watch YouTube videos together. Marisa is gentle and caring towards Aidan too. She'll want to push his pram around the supermarket and keep him entertained at the checkout. It's really special," Kate says.

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Being able to provide a stable and loving home and getting to know the Marisa and Aidan and their personalities, Kate says, has been really rewarding.

"Marisa wasn't born in Australia and is from another culture, so being able to share her really intense pride in it brings us so much joy. It makes us so proud of her," she says.

"And for Aidan he grows in leaps and bounds. He's picking up new things like crazy and again, it's that real job of seeing him grow, develop and learn new skills and knowing you're playing a part in that."

Kate knows if and when it is time for Marisa and Aidan to return to their families, she and Anita will continue to foster more children like them well into the future. That's because there are not enough foster care homes in Victoria today and more are urgently needed.

So for those considering whether being a foster carer is right for them too, Kate says there's one thing to do.

"If you feel like you might be interested in becoming a foster carer, go along to an information night and work out if it's something that suits your family. It's really rewarding and it can be really nice to bring these wonderful kids into your home."

For more information, call 1800 013 088.

* Names have been changed to maintain the privacy of Kate and Anita's foster children.

This content was brought to you with thanks by our brand partner, Fostering Connections.

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