Looking after a child or young person is both an extraordinary gift and an ongoing challenge, especially if you choose to become a Foster Carer. Foster Carers provide a safe and nurturing home for children and young people who cannot live with their biological families.
Meli, the new name for BCYF and Bethany, ensures that its Foster Carers are never alone. At Meli, carers are supported in a variety of ways including comprehensive and ongoing training, 24-hour support, access to specialists, respite care, financial assistance and networking, peer support and social opportunities – everything a Foster Carer needs.
Meli’s Carer Wellbeing Officer, Allison Hampshire, ensures carers’ voices are heard and that they are supported through the practical and emotional challenges of caring.
“Spending time with carers and holding space for people, even when you don’t necessarily have an instant solution to the challenge they are facing, is powerful and hopefully makes people feel less alone in challenging times,” Ms Hampshire said.
She said all Foster Carers are different, but also special.
“It’s their dedication to the children in their care, their willingness to learn and grow as carers in order to meet the needs of the children, and their ability to see the children for the special and unique people that they are,” she said.
Foster Carers Sharon and Carly have cared through Meli for several years and love it – taking all the ups and downs in their stride.
“We’ve never felt like we’ve done it alone, even when we’ve had some challenging behaviours or kids have come to us from really difficult situations – and that does affect us sometimes,” Sharon said.
“The fact that we know there is always someone we can chat with, we can say, ‘yep, this is why we’re doing it, this is where we’re at, these are the tools that we have to use’, that has been really helpful for us.
“And we love it – it’s not just that we’re giving the kids the care they need, but we get so much out of it as well.”
Ms Hampshire encouraged people to consider becoming a Foster Carer.
“There are far more children who require safe places to live than what we can offer through our program, and more foster carers are always needed,” she said.
“A lot of people worry they don’t have what it takes to be a foster carer; they worry their house might not be big enough, they don’t earn enough, they’re not partnered etcetera.
“If you are over 21, and have a spare room, contact us and talk things through. We can have a detailed discussion and hopefully allay any concerns.”
Foster Care Week runs from September 10 to 16. Foster Care Week raises awareness about foster care in the wider community and celebrates foster carers and their invaluable contribution to the lives of vulnerable children and young people and the community.
We still urgently need more Foster Carers in our community. To find out if foster care is for you, contact Meli on 5226 8900 or visit www.meli.org.au/foster-care/
You can also support children and young people in foster care by making a donation online during Meli’s annual Foster a Future Appeal at www.meli.org.au/fosterafuture/