Ben* was less than two years old when he entered foster care: he’s now 18 and still lives with the same family. While it is always hoped that children in foster care can eventually return to their birth parents, it is not always possible. While Ben’s story speaks of heartbreak and difficulties of separation, ultimately his is a story of healing, generosity, and above all, personal triumph.
The early years of Ben’s life were very challenging. He struggled with the emotional impacts of moving numerous times between foster care and his family. He suffered in the disconnection from his birth family.
Despite Ben’s emotional hardship, his foster carers were able to stabilise his world. They provided a predictable and nurturing environment from which Ben could begin to grow and meet important developmental milestones. With the support of his carers and AV, throughout the years he has increasingly engaged with his school environment and peers and will complete his final VCE units this year. With assistance from AV’s Better Tomorrow funding, his carers were able to access additional funds for extra-curricular activities. Ben has taken hold of those opportunities with both hands, pursuing both sporting and musical interests – recently performing guitar in front of the whole school at an assembly.
From years of steady support and inclusion, Ben now strongly identifies as a member of his carer family. While returning to his birth family’s care was not possible, with the encouragement of his carers, he has maintained a meaningful relationship with them.
Every night there are hundreds of young people, not as fortunate as Ben.
As one of the leading providers of foster care in Victoria, AV integrates itself into communities and helps to support young people in need.
“There is a real need to provide more placement options for children and young people unable to reside with their families, but more importantly it’s about involving the
community; sharing that responsibility to create opportunities for children to experience a regular family environment – creating as much normality as possible.” Program Manager, Tarni Haywood
Staying with strangers can be frightening for young people, and challenging for the foster family too. Successful placement occurs when carers appropriately attune to the child’s needs: initially offering safety and stability, but over time creating a deeper bond. The foster care team at AV is inspired every day by the commitment and contributions of foster carers: taking in kids and including them as part of their own family; holding strong through the hard times. They are Victoria’s everyday heroes building better tomorrows for our most in need young people.
Ben will continue to reside with his carers as he moves into the next phase of his life. He hopes to pursue his interest in science at university next year, and he will continue to be supported and encouraged by his carers as he faces the excitement and challenges of tertiary education. Ben has matured into an engaging, intelligent and well balanced young man; something he and his family can be truly proud of.
*This story is true, but names have been changed.