Vince and Kym's story: Fostering children for more than 20 years
Yarraville couple Vince and Kym have been foster carers for more than 20 years.
23 years ago Vince decided to become a foster carer. Vince was recently separated and caring for his four biological children full-time, however, as a single parent, and with the support of his own children, he felt he could still welcome other children into his home. He came from a big family and was the youngest of 12 and knew he could give back.
Since then Vince, alongside his now partner Kym who also has his own two biological children, has fostered more than 70 children. Some children have come into their care for the occasional respite and some have stayed long-term. They are now proud foster carers with OzChild.
Whilst most of the children in Vince and Kym’s care have been able to return home, they have been in a position to support young people to remain in their care after turning 18 and support them to gain employment and thrive into adulthood.
“My own biological daughter didn’t leave home until she was 34. An 18-year-old child in care shouldn’t be expected to leave by that age.”
Vince and Kym recognise their roles as foster carers also supporting young people’s connection to their biological family where possible.
“I don’t want to pretend to be dad, I am a foster dad but they have a biological dad or mum and I don’t want to take that away from them. I tell the children in my care to call me Vince or call me grandpa because I am old enough. They can choose whatever they feel comfortable with.”
As Vince and Kym’s confidence in their skills has grown and their fostering journey evolved, they then began to open up their home to children with more complex needs and children with disabilities. Together they have supported young people to be able to attend a special school, gain a diagnosis and attend medical appointments. Their advice is to reach out for support and reach out to other carers who may be experiencing the same thing.
Vince says he and Kym both play different roles as a fostering team, splitting up their roles based on what they each bring to the table. Vince is now retired and able to spend more time at home with day-to-day responsibilities and meet with teachers at school, whereas Kym who works is more involved in care team meetings and coordinating NDIS support.
“We complement each other in that respect”.
In their 20 years of fostering, they've been through plenty of ups and downs with the children in their care. Two years into a placement with a young boy, Vince knew something was not right and took him to the doctor. The young boy was shortly after diagnosed with cancer. After six months of chemotherapy, he was cancer-free and has grown up and moved out. They still remain in touch to this day.
Ultimately being foster carers has been an incredibly rewarding experience for both Kym and Vince. It’s something they wouldn’t change for the world.
"Fostering gives me a lot of purpose. Often people might ask me, Vince aren’t you getting a bit too old for this? And I say no. Am I supposed to crawl up in a corner and retire? I have too much to give back.”
Interested in becoming a foster carer?
All kinds of kids need all kinds of foster carers.
Whether you’re single, partnered, young or old, working full time or not working at all, from any religion or in a same-sex relationship, if you have a spare bedroom and want to play a part in a child’s life, then you’ve got what it takes to get started.
To learn more about becoming a foster carer, give us a call on 1800 013 088 or enquire online.