Elisabeth Champion – Naracoorte Herald, August 27, 2020
Limestone Coast locals are being urged to consider becoming a foster carer to help meet the needs of vulnerable young people in the South East. ac.care supports 185 registered foster carer families providing safe homes and positive relationships to more than 250 children across eastern regional South Australia, but with the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable families expected to prompt an increase in the number of young people in need of support, the agency hopes to recruit a further 30 foster carers this year.
Local long-term foster carer Liz and her husband are one couple who opened not only their home, but their hearts, to two young siblings and said they were “really blessed” to have the chance. “We were looking to have a family, and the thought that we could help kids at the same time, that was a really good feeling,” she said. “They are family, I love them – people say ‘It’s so wonderful what you do’ but I’m just being a mum. “It comes with challenges, but it is such a small price to pay, I couldn’t imagine my life without them.”
She said that people shouldn’t feel daunted about the idea of becoming a foster carer. “At first I thought there was no way I would be a foster carer- I ruled it out because of the stereotype, but now that I am in it, I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she said. “When people think about fostering, they tend think of a short term placement, and that’s all they see but there are so many different types of fostering that people aren’t aware of. “My husband and I have taken on raising a baby and a toddler through to adulthood, known as long term care. But you don’t have to be a full time carer – there is respite care, and emergency care as well. “There are hard parts about the system, and that is where agencies like ac.care really come into play and help give you support. There is always support – there is financial, education and emotional support.”
She urged anyone considering becoming a carer to make contact with ac.care. “If you want to help the foster system, put your hand up, there has to be something you can do,’ she said. “It takes a community to raise a child, so every extra adult that can put their hand up makes that community bigger. “Just ask – get on the phone and talk to them, you don’t have to commit but they will give you more information so you know if it’s right for you or not.”
ac.care foster care manager Dani Atkinson said the agency welcomed inquiries from anyone interested in becoming a foster carer, with opportunities to commit to long-term, short-term or respite care. “Family-based care can make a huge difference in the lives of infants, children and youths and we are inspired every day by our wonderful carers who live by their commitment to provide a stable and nurturing environment for vulnerable young people,” she said.
“Our agency provides extensive support to carers to ensure they are not alone on their journey of caring, wherever they are based in eastern regional South Australia.” She said teams based in the Limestone Coast, Riverland and Murraylands worked closely with the network of carers, including providing outreach services to the Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu Peninsula. “We would love to hear from anyone interested in finding out more about foster care and whether the time is right for them to open their heart and home to a young person in need.”