Bronwyn and Dale
"To see a child experience something for the first time, brings tears of joy."
Meet Bronwyn and Dale
"Carers are needed desperately, if you can offer a safe, loving home and have a big heart. Please consider helping a child," Bronwyn calls for action straight off the bat.
Bronwyn and Dale are a foster caring powerhouse. Over the last 15 years they have cared for over 30 children in respite, emergency, short and long-term care.
"We have had two long-term children for nearly 11 years, one turned 18 last year but still calls us home and we have just welcomed another young person into our home. We also have a biological 7 year-old daughter and 5 year-old son. Our house is ‘full' but we wouldn't have it any other way," says Dale.
"A friend told us about the need for more foster carers and Dale and I had just brought a home and wanted to share with children who needed a loving, safe environment. We have been foster carers ever since," explains Bronwyn.
For this big and loving family, everyday day is different but they maintain that if trust and respect is always at the forefront, that fostering brings incredible rewards.
Bronwyn believes the key to being positive and loving foster parents is to build a relationship based on honesty. She says that it is important to listen without judgement, be a voice when the child has momentarily lost theirs, always be supportive and practice open communication.
"When a lot of the children first arrive they have so many walls up around them you need to make the time and have the patience to reassure them, and remind them that they are safe and loved," says Bronwyn.
The key to foster caring is also building relationships says Dale, "Build the same relationships with caseworkers, and if possible the children's family. Everyone needs to be working in the best interest of the child."
These experienced foster carers also acknowledge the challenges, "You have to be able to handle bad days and nights and have coping tools for yourself and the child. Without respect you can't have trust, our family motto is to show Respect to All."
This amazing family also acknowledge the journey of a foster child, "The hardest part of being a carer is watching a child struggling to overcome the trauma. Our eldest boy since turning 17 has remembered his past before care, and he struggled in a way that was heartbreaking. With a lot of ongoing support and understanding he has now been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, it has taken all of us as a family to be his support system."
But with every cloud comes the many silver linings and Bronwyn says there are way too many to individually express.
"To know these children are safe and happy is the biggest joy. To see a child experience something for the first time, brings tears of joy. A simple school excursion or learning how to swim, I truly am blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful inspiring children," says Bronwyn.
"To see a child go from thinking they will never be able live independently or keep up with other kids his own age, to working so hard to prove that he can do whatever he puts his mind to and excelling makes every bit of being a foster carer worthwhile," says Dale.
When asked about what advice Bronwyn would give people interested in becoming foster carers, she said, "I always say to talk to other foster carers about life as a carer first. Then talk to Life Without Barriers about getting as much information about fostering as possible so you're prepared. Then do the courses before starting as a carer to understand the young person's behaviours and tools to assist you to deal with any and all situations."
It would seem fitting that the last word comes from our matriarch Bronwyn, who we celebrate as one of Life Without Barriers most long-term and amazing carers:
"For 15 years I have had the privilege of caring for so many wonderful young people. I have seen them become young adults, get married, have their own children, become stable working members of society, overcome various obstacles and succeed. To see happy children who now know who they are, feel worthy of love and are part of a family - there are no words to describe that! We are the blessed ones to have the pleasure to help them to become anything they choose to be. Fostering has brought so much into our lives and we hope to continue to foster for years to come!"
Hear, hear Bronwyn!!
Andrea and Colin
Long term care for kids with complex needs
With three boys having flown the nest, carers Colin and Andrea felt like they still had a lot of love to give. They now care permanently for two primary school age children.
Long-term care for kids of all ages
Barbara is an Aboriginal woman who has a background in disability and mental health nursing. Barbara has been a long-term foster carer for a young person with disability.