Marcelle's foster care story
Marcelle shares her experience going on to higher education and how her foster carers supported her to reach her goals.
Tell us a little bit about yourself...
My name is Marcelle, I am 19 and currently completing my bachelor’s degree in law and arts with a major in gender and diversity. I am passionate about people and advocacy, spending a lot of my time learning about others and about how I can use my experience to impact my community. When I’m not studying, I work in hospitality and spend my time with my head in a book, crocheting, finding some garden to explore or spending time with the people I love.
What is something you really enjoy about studying?
I love the way study challenges me perpetually by forcing me to learn and develop skills that will impact my future and career goals. It’s something I can always turn to and feel rewarded by. Although it feels tedious and painful sometimes, it’s really important knowing that I am working towards something that I can do and apply throughout my life.
How did a foster carer support you with your education goals?
There were many pivotal moments within the relationship I was able to develop with my foster carers. Examples of small ways they encouraged growth and achievements toward my education goals include: encouraging me to write lists of things I was capable of, good at or that I wished to achieve (regardless of the achievability, it was awesome to begin writing goals and listing what was in my power to achieve them).
They were my support network and still are when it comes to education goals. In having this role, they would always help me with time management, goal setting and boundary setting – eternally touching base and engaging with me to reflect on whether I was achieving my goals or not. This was helpful as it provided consistency and helped me learn the skills to independently attend to my needs and goals.
What do people usually get wrong about young people in foster care?
I think there a number of statistics and stigma that encourage certain perceptions of young people as being difficult, disinterested in higher education or more likely to go to jail etc. I have looked at some statistics myself and felt disappointed that this is an idea people may have but I can’t blame them because sometimes it is the case, however, it is just as likely to be the case for any one in foster care or not. People's experiences with life and especially higher education are not linear.
Often these assumptions only work to perpetuate these attitudes for young people and may be the case as a result of many factors present in a person’s life. It is important to have an open mind and appreciate that a young person’s potential is limitless, and their own goals should always be supported and encouraged, even more so since they have experienced more obstacles in the way of achieving them.
What advice would you give to someone considering becoming a foster carer?
The advice I would give would be to be consistent, present with boundaries and model healthy behaviour and emotional regulation with care, compassion and resilience. It’s complex establishing the foundations of a dynamic with a young person who may have experienced a lot of instability or trauma, but it is one of the most transformative, rewarding things you can do.
Reach out to support services and programs that may help you get what you need, be that advice, money, respite via programs the young person can engage in. I would also suggest engaging a young person in some sort of mental health service, or at least encouraging as I think it is one of the most helpful tools for foster carers and young people in care. There are many suggestions, but every experience is different. Ultimately, be kind to yourself even when it feels tiring and impossible.
Interested in becoming a foster carer?
Foster carers play an important 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.
To find out more about becoming a foster carer, call 1800 013 088 or enquire today.