Kathryn and Neil are foster carers in Hobart who have a young boy in their care. They have been carers with Life Without Barriers since the beginning of 2023. With Care 2 Thrive, they will look after this young person full-time until he is an adult.
We sat down with Kathryn and Neil to chat with them about their foster care journey and what it is like to be in the special Care 2 Thrive.
How did you decide to become foster carers?
“I've always wanted to foster children. Between my husband and I, we have five of our own.” Said Kathryn.
“I actually started working for Life Without Barriers last year as a residential support worker. And I met a little person.
"Two weeks after working with them, I came home to Neil and I said we need to foster him. He needs somewhere to belong.”
“And the rest is history.” Said in Neil. “We're doing a program through Life Without Barriers called Care 2 Thrive, and that means having one full-time foster child and concentrating on him only.”
“He's with us as long as he wants to be with us.” Said Neil.
What sort of training or support did you receive when onboarding?
Kathryn shared that it was quite an intense time. “It was really rewarding because it gave you a big perspective on foster caring. There was plenty of trauma-informed training, training, pace parenting.” Said Kathryn.
“There were many, many days at Life Without Barriers’ training room to tell us of how the process would go so we were fully prepared.” Added Neil.
How did you prepare yourselves to become foster parents?
As Kathryn and Neil already had children, it was important that the whole family were involved.
“We spoke to our children before we went ahead. We did that to make sure they were OK with it.” Said Kathryn.
“Our children are all adults, so they don't live at home anymore, but we still wanted to make sure that they were on board with it. If they had any concerns they could share them with us.” Said Neil.
“And we've got grandchildren as well," added Kathryn. "We discussed it with them because one of our grandsons is the same age as the child. We let them know that Lenny and Poppy were having someone to come and live here full-time.
“And he was great. They were all great.”
Kathryn said the family were excited and that one of their daughters said; ‘That boy's so lucky.’
Image: Kathryn and Neil are sitting in their lounge room.
How did you prepare your home?
Kathryn said the home was already prepared because she had provided home care for children for over 20 years.
“There weren’t too many alterations we had to do to the house. But we made sure we set up a bedroom specifically for him to make them feel welcomed, loved and accepted. He has his own little place to have time for himself.” Said Kathryn.
What is your relationship with Life Without Barriers like?
“The case managers, they're really good." Said Neil.
“Everyone is so united. Everyone has the children's best interests at heart, so that's what's important. The most important thing.”
Kathryn said whenever something has cropped up, she reaches out to the Life Without Barriers support team.
“They're easily approachable, so that makes it a lot easier.”
Did anyone in your life advise against becoming foster parents?
Kathryn said they were met with encouragement from their friends and family and are also lucky to have a village around them.
“We're very blessed, we know other foster carers and having people around you helps with the support for yourself and for the child.”
What does the connection with the child's family look like?
The young person in Kathryn and Neils's care has siblings who are also in foster care. They have regular phone calls, sleepovers and birthday parties together. Kathryn said having a good relationship with the other carers is key.
“It's really good that the other foster carers are on board as well with having those times for the siblings to catch up. Family time is really important for the child because that's who they are, that's where they're from.” Said Kathryn.
Image: The family cat in the lounge room.
Would you look at fostering more children?
Currently, the Care 2 Thrive program focuses on one child in a home for at least 18 months to get them in the right sort of environment and space. Neil and Kathryn both want to focus all their energy on their young person for now.
“I want to concentrate on him and give him a real go.” Said Neil.
“But if in the future, if the time comes and we're ready to do it again, I'll do it again.”
“Without hesitation.” Kathryn chimed in.
Do you have any advice for people thinking about foster care?
The pair said that if you can give a young person a home to belong, where they can grow with the love, support and guidance that they need, you should go for it.
“My advice would be, if you're really interested, look into it, see what's involved, and then if you're happy with what you learn, go for it.” Said Kathryn.
“It's so rewarding for the child and yourself. Like, it's absolutely fantastic!”
Neil agreed strongly with his wife.
“It is rewarding for everybody involved. If you're thinking about it, don't hesitate to look into it.” Said Neil.
Want to know more about Care 2 Thrive?
The Life Without Barriers Care 2 Thrive program provides a safe, stable, and supportive family-based care environment for a child or young person with complex support requirements. Care 2 Thrive is provided by specialist authorised kinship or foster carers who are supported by Life Without Barriers to deliver a therapeutic approach to daily care.
The program involves a whole of team approach to engage all parts of a child’s holistic environment, providing the opportunity for children and young people to thrive with a supportive network and to heal through normalised childhood experiences!
Got more questions?
Our friendly and helpful fostering specialists are ready to answer your questions. Whether you're looking to start the process, get some answers or want more information, our team is waiting for you to connect.