Although invisibility or flying may not be their super power, young members of foster families have super abilities to share and care for children in need.
During Children’s Week Anglicare Victoria Eastern Region thanked their pint-sized superheros and acknowledged the contributions and sacrifices they give to other children who are not able to live with their own families.
But it’s not all hard work according to seven-year-old Grace, “I like looking after foster people especially babies”. Four-year-old Lucy says “My foster brothers and sisters are special because we play together”.
All the kids who came along to the Thank You Party received decorated a super hero mask and were awarded certificates.
Most people are unaware that single men to can apply and become foster carers. We have many single foster dads who do a fantastic job with children and young people in care, among them is Brian who has been a foster carer for adolescent boys for the past 4 years.
“I became a foster carer to I guess give young people in need a roof over their heads and a second chance. Just to be there as an adult figure- being someone they can talk to is really rewarding. You hopefully give them some knowledge and, being older, you want them to start to do things themselves like doing their own washing. You’re really getting them ready to live on their own. As adolescents they have different problems so it’s a matter of listening to them and having more patience. It’s really rewarding, just seeing them change and improve and get on with life. Just seeing a smile on their face.”
Michael and his wife have been fostering for 3 years now, as well as having four young children of their own. As we look forward to Father’s Day we thought we’d find out a bit more about our foster dads.
Foster dads can play an important role in a child’s life and in some cases may be among the very few positive male role models a child has encountered. Malcolm and his wife have been fostering for four years now.
“My role is more as a supportive carer as I work all day and my wife is the one at home with the kids. Foster care is something we’ve always wanted to do and I’ve enjoyed every bit of it… well maybe not every bit but all in all we enjoy it! I do movie nights and popcorn with the kids or take them out on the weekend. If we have boys I often take them fishing or to the footy, fixing the car– just normal things, Dad things.”
In the lead up to Father’s Day we thought we would shine the spotlight on just a few of our foster dads to celebrate what they do. Our first is Toon, who has been a foster carer in partnership with his wife for just under 2 years.
Being a foster dad really gives me a sense of contribution. At training everybody talked about making a difference but until you start doing it you just don’t realise how true those words are. I’m a lot richer in terms of my being for being a foster carer for these kids.
Anglicare Victoria Eastern Region is reporting a need for new foster carers to fill the shoes of carers no longer actively taking new placements. But it’s not for the reasons which may immediately come to mind.
In the space of just a few months, three young people who’ve been supported by the Adolescent Community Placement Program (ACP) for the past 4-5 years have all celebrated their 18th birthdays. All three will stay on with their foster carers for the forseeable future even though it is technically no longer an official foster care placement.
These are fantastic outcomes for young people who clearly enjoy strong relationships with their foster carers.
But with these foster carers continuing to have full houses after the official end of the placement, there is a shortage of placement options available to young people in the region.
Anglicare Victoria, now more than ever, needs new foster carers to fill the shoes of these carers.
You can hear an interview with a foster carer of adolescents by following this link, or to find out more about becoming involved by calling 1300 889 335.
Do you live in or near Melbourne’s Eastern region? Do you enjoy spending time with kids? Do you have one weekend a month to spare for a family in need of some support? Read on!
Jason is a 10 year old boy with high functioning autism who loves DVD’s, computers and playing with Lego. Jason would really benefit from some one-to-one time as part of a regular respite arrangement, which would also give his mother a well earned break.
As a respite carer you would work closely with Jason’s mum would be able to offer support and all of the necessary information needed to be able to care for Jason appropriately. You would also be supported by the Disability Program.
If you think you could spare one weekend a month to support Jason and his family please call 1300 889 335 to find out how to get started.
If you live in other parts of Victoria but feel interested in similar roles in your local area simply call 1800 013 088 to find out more.
*names have been changed in the interests of privacy
Ever wondered what being a foster carer for adolescents is like? We talked to Hilary to get her perspective and you may be suprised by what she has to say.
“Becomming a foster carer was something I’d been wanting to do for a long time. I always thought it would be good to do something like that to help children and young people who need someone to care for them but I was a little bit worried about the types of behviours and how I would cope. I decided to wait until my own children had were a bit older and then called Anglicare Victoria, that was about 5 years ago.
At first I was pretty nervous, especially waiting for them to arrive, but once they arrived my home it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. The first few days of them being in the home can be challenging but once they settle in it’s great. After a while they start to form a good relationship with you and that’s when you feel like you’re really getting somewhere. I find it really rewarding, just helping them and getting to know them. I really enjoy it.
Often teenagers act as if they don’t need or appreciate you but they do need somebody and quietly they do appreciate our concern for their wellbeing. It’s also great to help them access new ideas and experiences. Lots of people think that it’s only children that are impressionable but adolescents are also really open to new ideas.
For anyone who is is thinking about foster care I would say just call up and find out more.You can always start off with easier or shorter placements and you get lots of support from the case-workers. I love the support I get from Anglicare Victoria. Whenever I need help or advice, they are always there for me to call.”
Are you a foster carer? Share your story on our blog. Or if your thinking about becomming a carer call 1800 013 088 (in Victoria) to have all your questions answered.
“Those are the times when children are obviously most in need, when they’re most vulnerable”, Meryl says, “Its rewarding to be the family who comforts children and gives them a safe environment when there really isn’t anyone else who can do that.”
Meryl and Phillip have regularly taken children into their home who are caught in a crisis situation.
“A little while back two little girls arrived in the night in a pair of pyjamas given to them by the caseworker and that was all they had. Obviously the children were quite distressed and exhausted so the main thing was to have a warm bed ready for them with some teddies for them to snuggle and something to drink and eat.”
Meryl believes that even in short placements she can have a positive impact on children. “Even if the placement is only for a day, the children have experienced a safe place– they take away a feeling that they are special and they do deserve that.
“As an emergency carer you need to be available to spend that time with them so that even if it’s just a short time it’s as meaningful as possible.”
Anglicare Victoria Eastern Region needs 30 additional emergency carers who would be available to take children and young people for unplanned placements once or twice a month. Placements could be 1-3 nights while decisions are being made about the most suitable place for the child. The majority of these placements would be made during daytime hours.
If you’d like to find out more please call 1300 889 335.
As the Anglicare Victoria report into Educational Outcomes for Children in Out of Home Care has found, keeping kids in foster care engaged in school and education is a major challenge. Education is key to future opportunities for children and young people when they become adults, but experiences of trauma, instability and other difficulties form significant barriers to children achieveing their dreams.
In Jamie’s* case though, effective interventions, encouragement and persistance by a range of professionals involved in his life have led to a turn around in his engagement in school. It’s a great example of the ways that new therapuetically based programs such as Anglicare Victoria’s TrACK program are able to make a real difference in the lives of children and young people.
Jamie* first came into foster care when he was four years old due to abuse and domestic violence in his family. He was targeted by his stepfather and eventually rejected when his step-siblings were in the family home.
Early years in foster care were plagued by instability with a number of different placements and his behaviours became very difficult to manage. He was throwing tantrums for hours on end, needing to control everyone and everything around him, lashing out in anger without real cause, fire lighting and generally being oppositional towards any adult guidance. His caseworkers decided he should move into a children’s Residential Care Unit.
Then at seven years old Jamie moved in with a new foster family as part one of Anglicare Victoria’s therapeutic programs.
As part of this program the foster family were given extra training, resources and support in order to re-parent Jamie to help him overcome his traumaic background.
Jamie had counselling from the Australian Childhood Foundation on a regular basis. His foster carers also had the support of psychologists and other specialists to give them advice about how to respond to his behaviours in a way which would help him learn new behaviours and recover from his trauma.
His carers were also able to work together with the school to increase his attendance and Jamie’s natural parents were also offered education about his challenges and how to help him recover from the trauma of his early life.
It wasn’t easy for anyone, but over time improvements could be seen in Jamie’s behaviour.
With some changes to the family’s living arrangements and the support of extended family, Jamie started staying with his natural family every second weekend, re-empowering them to care for him. Relationships were improving and eventually Jamie was able to return to his mother’s care full-time.
Now at 12 years old Jamie continues to live with his mother and his family. Although Jamie’s behaviour is much improved, it will take years to fully resolve. Jamie’s mum sometimes rings the foster carers for tips and advice when things get difficult and Jamie still occasionally visits his former foster carers for the weekend..
Jamie knows that he has two families who both care about him and whom work together to do their best by him.
*Names and images in this story have been changed in the interests of privacy