There is a need for all sorts of foster carers. Single people. Families. Same sex couples. Carers from culturally diverse backgrounds.
Every parent has endless stories about the challenges of raising kids – the ill-timed public tantrums, the embarrassing comments at inappropriate moments and those mornings where stubborn refusals to get dressed or brush teeth make leaving the house seem like an impossible dream.
But then, of course, they give you an unprompted hug or tell you you’re beautiful or study a beetle crawling over a footpath in a state of pure wonder and you fall in love all over again.
It’s all in the little moments.
Caring for foster kids is pretty much the same.
Of course there are lots of challenges. Many kids in care haven’t always had adults they can rely on. Many are struggling to deal with the difficult things they have seen or experienced in their short lives.
Foster care is about giving a child or young person the simple things they may never have had before – or at least had with any consistency. Like a warm bed or sharing a meal.
But it’s also about so much more – it’s about giving a young person a safe space where they can be heard, it’s about giving them happy memories and it’s about giving them a chance to reach their full potential.
When you realise that they’ve grown in confidence enough to say ‘let me cook dinner tonight’.
Or that moment when you are both lost in the simple joy of planting tomatoes.
They’re the moments that foster carers say really stick in their minds and their hearts.
Those moments that make you realise you’ve made a difference in a young person’s life.
Just like it is with your own kids, foster care is about the little moments.
Right now, there are more than 8000 Victorian children and young people in out-of-home-care with not enough foster carers to take them in.
And that’s where you can help.
You don’t need to be superhuman to be a great carer. You don’t need to be rich. Or a trained psychologist. You just need to be someone who cares about, and for, children. You just need to be someone who wants to make a difference to a child’s life.
Taking the first step to becoming a foster carer can seem more like a leap. But it’s not a leap you take alone – you’re supported every step of the way.
Children and young people in care can present with complex problems because of their experiences, but when you become a carer, you receive specialist training to help you manage any issues, as well as ongoing support from your foster care agency.
And there are lots of different ways to become a carer, because different children need different types of care depending on their circumstances. So you can choose what works for you, your family and your lifestyle.
Maybe you can commit to short or long-term care. Or maybe you can only spare weekend a month to provide respite care. Or maybe emergency overnight care for a child in need suits you best.
The point is, foster care can be flexible.
Like all children, foster children need support, patience, encouragement and a safe place. They come into care at all ages, from babies to teenagers. And they come from all sorts of different backgrounds.
So there is a need for all sorts of foster carers. Single people. Families. Same sex couples. Carers from culturally diverse backgrounds.
This year, Victoria’s 26 foster care agencies have come together under one banner – Fostering Connections - so it’s now easier than ever to become a foster carer.
Whether you live in the city, the country or a regional centre, there’s a foster agency that’s active in your community.
Fostering Connections can help you find the right agency for you. Who will then find the right child for you to foster.
Foster care changes lives. Why not let it change your life?
No matter how big or small your involvement, you can make all the difference to a child or young people.
All those little moments add up to something pretty amazing.