Australia needs more foster carers, and community-minded Australians are being encouraged to ‘play a part’ and consider fostering a child in need this Foster Care Week.
Anglicare Victoria, the state’s largest foster care agency, is in need of 90 more carers to meet demand.
Currently around 46,000 Australian kids are in foster care. Foster carers provide a safe and supportive environment for children and young people who are unable to live with their own families for various reasons. Carers are also able to offer support for families in crisis, and families that have a child with a disability and need respite.
Paul McDonald, CEO of Anglicare Victoria says the ongoing COVID pandemic continues to put pressure on carers, and there has been a national decline in the number of people putting their hand up to care.
“After a couple of tough years during the pandemic, managing lockdowns, working from home and remote learning, we’ve had a number of carers decide to take a break from fostering. The number of new foster carers needed across all agencies in Victoria alone is estimated to exceed 700. The situation is urgent. Foster Care Week is the perfect time to consider helping a child in need by welcoming them into your home. It’s rewarding and it’s life-changing,” said Mr McDonald.
“The fact is, we can’t do this without you. When we don’t get enough new carers coming in the door, it’s often a reality that kids need to move further away from their local area. This obviously has a big impact on their lives. Having a healthy number of foster carers leads to more kids living in safe and secure homes long-term, and more teenagers growing into positive contributors to society. Every community across Australia benefits from this.”
Amanda Capsalis has been a foster carer with Anglicare Victoria since May 2019. She currently cares for three foster children under the age of five. Together with her house mate, Peter Kent, who is also an accredited carer, and her adult daughter, Hannah, Amanda is supporting the older children through kinder and getting them ready for prep next year.
“We get so much joy from these kids. They love living in our home and we make sure we create a nurturing, family environment. The older kids help me with the toddler and treat him like a little brother,” explains Amanda. “Some days are difficult, but the good certainly outweighs the bad. I can’t imagine not fostering now and wish I’d started earlier.”
Foster care can take the form of short term care which varies from a few days to a few months, or long term care if a young person cannot return home for some time. Emergency care is usually for a night or two before a more permanent home can be found, and respite care is used to give full time carers a break, for a weekend each month, or a week during the school holidays.
During Foster Care Week 2022, people are being encouraged to ‘play a part’. By becoming a foster carer you will not only help care for vulnerable children, but you will become part of a broader foster care community.
Anglicare Victoria is currently looking for all types of foster carers, whether it be respite care for a few hours on the weekend or something more long-term. Anyone who is able to provide a stable and loving home is encouraged to contact their local foster care provider.
Foster carers can be adults who are single, married, in same-sex relationships, older, younger, with or without their own kids. “There are fun parts, hard parts, rewarding parts and life-changing parts. Being a foster carer can be challenging, but it is enormously rewarding,” said Mr McDonald. “Anyone that thinks they might like to play a part should certainly reach out.”
Foster carers are reimbursed for out of pocket expenses related to the care of the child or children, and are supported throughout the process with dedicated case workers and around the clock help a phone call away.