How my culture was supported during foster care
Children in care who are supported to maintain a connection to their culture, religion and language are able to develop their sense of belonging and identity and therefore have better outcomes as they grow up.
This Cultural Diversity Week, Youth Support Facilitator Reggie shares their experience of how foster care supported their connection to culture.
Tell us a little bit about yourself…
My name is Reggie and I am studying film at university in Victoria. In my spare time, I enjoy going into the outdoors and taking photographs. I enjoy music from different parts of the world and I also sing for a choir. I am currently working in the child and family services sector and provide my lived experience lens to help improve the Out of Home Care sector.
How did a carer support you to be connected to culture?
When I first entered care my foster care agency put me in a home that aligned with my cultural values growing up. I grew up in an ethnically South East Asian home. With my foster carers we had meals together and used chopsticks. We also had our own rice bowls and we would share and grab food from the centre of the table. I felt like this really made me feel comfortable when entering foster care for the first time.
What advice would you give for foster carers caring for children from multicultural backgrounds?
Learn about the culture of the child in your care and educate yourself through your own research. You can’t always expect your foster child to tell you about their culture. Young people in foster care have already been through a challenging experience, so learning about their culture is a good place to start. Put things in place to support your foster child; if they are like me and prefer to eat with the family, make that a reality. Of course, you can still introduce them to your culture, but at the end of the day the young person may not have been exposed to your culture. They may feel very foreign to the idea of living in someone else’s home, so make your home their home.
What does multiculturalism mean to you?
Multiculturalism to me is society understanding each other and each individual culture in order to function in this world. We all carry our own individual biases and challenging them is one of the best ways to move forward. I think when we challenge our bias, we understand and accept that our initial judgement of someone is based off mixed emotions and understandings from our own upbringing or around our peers. Shifting the mindset of who we are into the greater scope of our city allows us to breathe and enjoy people for who they are and not what they are.
Learn more about how to support the culture of a young person in your care here.
Interested in becoming a foster carer?
Families come in all shapes and sizes and so do foster carers. Foster carers play a critical role in supporting children and young people in care to thrive. If you think you can create a safe and supportive environment for a child, then give fostering a go.