"If I can earn the child's trust and respect I can share their joys and sorrows. It's a privilege"
Elaine has been a respite carer with Life Without Barriers since 2012. In addition to providing respite care for foster children she has three grown children and three grandchildren.
When asked about providing temporary and respite care for foster children, Elaine says "I try to tune in to where the child is emotionally. I am respectful of their personal space and privacy. I give hugs if the child seems open to it. I listen. I don't ask about why they are in care. A picture of their home life unfolds without me prying. I try to get them to be as independent as they are capable of being."
Elaine believes the relationships with the children she cares for hinges on trust and respect, "If I can earn the child's trust and respect I can share their joys and sorrows. It's a privilege."
When asked about her fondest memories as a foster carer, Elaine recalled one story above all others, "There was a girl about 10 who came and put her arms around my waist and cried because she had been taken from her school and she was uncertain of her future. I hugged her back. Eventually she went to live with grandparents but text messaged me for support, she settled in about 6 months after that. I loved that she trusted me. It felt satisfying to encourage her."
When asked about what advice she would give to people who were considering being respite or foster carers, Elaine said to "consider your own personality and family tolerance to see what you can cope with. For myself I aim for a peaceful home so am not keen on having more than one child at a time."
"Know yourself well and what you can offer. When a child arrives in your home it will take time to build a relationship and for them to feel safe and settled. Give them and yourself time. Remember carers are only one part of the team so reach out to your agency (Life Without Barriers) if you need to. I found it reassuring knowing I wasn't alone; that help was only a phone call or email away."
For Elaine what was a resounding driver for her as a foster carer was providing stability and support in a time when a child needs it the most, "The young woman I have at the moment now has her driving licence, her Australian citizenship and will finish high school in a couple of months. She will go on to university next year. She is a capable, confident young woman and I've played a part in all this. That thrills me."
And you thrill us Elaine! Thank you!!
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.