Hannah's experience fostering teenagers
As a high school teacher, Hannah knew she could play an important role as a foster carer for teenagers. Read Hannah's story.
Tell us a little bit about yourself...
My name is Hannah, and I live in Melbourne’s West with my new puppy George and kitten Opi. I'm in my early 30s and work full-time as a teacher at a local high school.
I have been a foster carer with Baptcare for about a year, starting the process during the COVID-19 pandemic. During that time, I have had a teenage girl stay with me long-term and have also provided respite care on the weekends.
What led you to become a foster carer?
When I was younger, I volunteered with my local youth group as a camp leader for a group of young people in foster care. It was an eye-opening experience and planted the seed early on that this was something I wanted to do, and that this was an important way I could contribute to kids' lives.
I knew some friends who had fostered before, so I had a bit of a sense of what it was all about. When COVID-19 happened, I had more time on my hands and decided I was ready to take the plunge.
What’s been the most rewarding part of being a foster carer?
It’s been the little things like having her spend time with my own family and having Christmas together. I took the girl who stayed with me long-term camping and we went on a few hikes with friends. Like any teenager, she hated the hike at first, but once we got to the top, she was thrilled to see the view and we took a great picture together.
By fostering, I feel like I am contributing to my community and giving back, and I feel am giving young people options they haven’t had before. It’s been a great experience to learn more about what different people are going through and what their struggles are.
How did you prepare yourself to become a foster carer? What support have you received?
When I first applied to become a foster carer, I wanted to learn as much as I could about the out-of-home care system in Victoria. It helped a lot that I had teaching experience and so some of the training was familiar to me.
I’ve been amazed at how much support I have received as a foster carer. And it’s not just myself and the case manager, it’s the whole care team trying to help you and this young person. Everyone wants to make the placement successful and positive for the child and for you too.
During the tough times, my case worker was available to talk me through things and reassure me that I was doing the right thing. I could give them a call at any time of the day or night. I’ve received access to continual training including just recently completing training through CarerKafe on restoring the balance of care for teenagers.
Tell us about your experience fostering teenagers...
As a high school teacher, I already felt very comfortable with teenagers and knew how I could help and fostering teenagers means you can be a bit more independent too. As I work full-time, they are able to catch the train to and from school by themselves. It’s been great to have conversations with them about how they are feeling and talk to them about their first crushes. And you also get to sleep in!
I don’t have children of my own, but I think sometimes that can be a good thing as foster carer because you’re not going in with any expectations. It’s better to just be trauma-informed.
What advice do you have for people thinking about becoming foster carers?
Fostering can be an emotional journey but it is also incredibly rewarding. Be patient and at the end of the day, remember the children in your care are going through a lot. I try to keep a good sense of humour and occasionally have a nice relaxing bath! Remember that tomorrow is always a new day.
You might not feel like you’ve made a difference right away, but you make up part of that difference later on. There’s also not a one-size fits all foster carer. It’s good to have lots of different types of carers to expose children to different people and different world views. You don’t need to be in a nuclear family to be a great foster carer.
Hannah and her puppy George
Interested in becoming a foster carer?
Fostering Connections welcomes foster carers from all backgrounds and walks of life. If you can create a safe and supportive home for a child to thrive, give us a call on 1800 013 088 or enquire online.