MANY might think that Cassie Rich and Scott Jones already have plenty on their plates, being the parents of five children between the ages of three and 15.
But the local couple obviously still has plenty of love to give – Mrs Rich and Mr Jones are foster carers, taking in kids in need and giving them a warm, welcoming home.
The pair became foster carers last August and in that time have looked after 15 children, providing emergency, respite and short-term care, and are currently caring for a baby boy.
Mrs Rich said becoming a foster carer was something they had both wanted to do, having even discussed it on their first date, and it was something she had experienced the value of first-hand.
“I’ve wanted to do it since I was little,” she said.
“I was adopted and I spent about six weeks in foster care myself, and my adoptive parents were foster carers.”
They decided to take the plunge once they had finished having their own children, and could ask them what they thought of the idea.
It also proved to be a good time because it was the first time they had moved to a place where they had the additional support of family living close by, having moved around for Mr Jones’ job in the army.
Mrs Rich said she found the experience of being a foster carer to be “lots of fun”.
“For me, you kind of feel like you’re making a difference,” Mr Jones added.
“There’s so much need out there, if you can make a difference to a child’s life while they’re with you, it’s invaluable.”
Mrs Rich said their kids had loved it too and had learnt a lot from the experience.
She and her husband hope to continue providing a home for children for as long as they can.
This week marked Foster Care Week and Anglicare Victoria chief executive officer Paul McDonald said foster carers were “society’s gold medallists”.
“These people are going above and beyond each day to ensure the state’s most vulnerable children are given optimal care in order to live the best life they can,” Mr McDonald said.
“Essentially, they are society’s quiet heroes.”
There are currently 71 registered carers in the Bendigo region and in 2015-16, 176 children went into home-based care.
Mrs Rich and Mr Jones said people from all kinds of backgrounds had the potential to provide the care that would make a positive difference to children’s lives.
Mr McDonald said a growing and changing society created a demand for more carers than ever before.
Anglicare Victoria will hold a foster care information session for the Bendigo region on October 20. For information, call 5440 1100.