Jackson's story fostering children with complex needs
Foster carers from all walks of life play an important role in our community by creating a safe and supportive home for children who cannot live with their family.
In this blog, Jackson shares his story as a young single carer fostering children with complex needs in North Central Victoria.
Tell us a little bit about yourself...
My name is Jackson and I live in Northern Victoria. I work at a local high school and have been fostering with Anglicare Victoria since 2021. In that time, I have fostered four wonderful kids, two of which are now in my care long-term.
Why did you decide to become a foster carer?
I had an interest in working with children and young people from an early age. I spent a lot of time abroad working in summer camps and as an au pair where I learnt a lot about caring for children from different cultures and backgrounds.
Back home in Victoria, I was a Scout leader and swim teacher and went on to work with children in education support. Working in a school environment really opened me up to the challenges that children in our own community and many of the children I worked with had spent time in out of home care.
I had a home with bedrooms to fill and I knew I could help so I decided to put my hand up to become a foster carer.
What was the recruitment and accreditation process like?
I started off small with an information session, wanting to get a bit more information about being a foster carer. At the information session there were a lot of like-minded people who wanted to help, but who came from all different walks of life.
I was curious about how it would work as someone who works full-time becoming a single carer, but quickly learned the recruitment and accreditation process would be flexible.
The training was very extensive and helped me prepare for when children would come into my care. It also allowed me to make sure I was in the right place in my life to be a foster carer as well.
Tell us about your first foster care placement...
At first, I began fostering by providing respite for a young boy with an intellectual disability, giving his long-term foster carers some time off over the school holidays. Before he came to stay, I sat down with his long-term carers for a cup of tea and biscuits to learn more the needs for this little boy, which was a wonderful introduction to fostering.
With his disability, he needed a lot of assistance with day-to-day activities, but I was able to implement what I had learnt in training. I’ve since gone on to provide respite for him several times now and we’ve built a wonderful relationship. When I pick him up for respite care, he comes running out of kindergarten to come and greet me.
How have you approached caring for children who have experienced trauma?
Children are all so different, and what works for one kid might not always work for another. When I take the two young boys in my care off to the supermarket, one of them wants to know exactly what we are buying, exactly how long we will be there and can be a bit more anxious, whereas the other boy’s only worry is whether he can bring the football along.
A strategy that I use is ‘social stories’. Before we go anywhere, I show the kids pictures of where we are going and the animals they will see along the way. That way when they come across a new animal, they aren’t as scared or surprised because they have seen them before in the pictures.
What are some moments you’ll always cherish?
I've been on some amazing adventures with the children in my care. We went on a holiday to Melbourne to test drove our favourite car and go and watch the AFL at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. We’ve had a lot of fun trying horse riding, Auskick and basketball.
If I hadn’t become a foster carer, I would have never had these amazing experiences as a young single person. Once you have children come to stay in your home, it changes your priorities for the better.
Interested in becoming a foster carer?
To learn more about becoming a foster carer, give us a call on 1800 013 088 or enquire online.