Kaz and Jo
"Life Without Barriers has been amazing. We feel part of a big family"
Meet Kaz and Jo
I have never known a home to be filled with so much authentic love, warmth and genuine laughter. When going into the home of Karyen and Jo you are greeted with a familiar hug, a cheeky joke from Kaz and Jo simultaneously rolling her eyes with a smile.
Jo and Kaz are both short and long-term foster carers with Life Without Barriers and they currently care for a little baby boy who is an absolute joy. Kaz is also the biological mother of a wonderful 18 year old son Jackson and Jo the biological mother of a sensitive and nurturing 21 year old daughter Brittany – who also works in child care. They are a supportive and loving family unit and being foster carers has brought an already close family, even closer.
When asked about why they made the decision to become foster carers, Jo starts by saying, "I have been a carer all my life and career. Kaz and I agreed it was time with both of our kids all grown up to open our home up to children in need. To protect and love them for however long they stay with us."
"We wanted to give back to the community in some way. Having two grown up children of our own, we felt we had a home we could open to others. We came across Life Without Barriers at Mardi Gras Fair Day and straight away felt a connection to the agency," said Kaz.
Jo and Kaz are a same sex couple and when I asked them if they had encountered any prejudices Kaz said, "Not any prejudice from agencies, but certainly plenty from members of the public. For some it's difficult to get past the short hair, tattoos and being a female couple, to see that we are just the same as them and our motive is to care for the kids. Kids never care though. As long as we could kick the ball around or build sandcastles at the beach, that child was happy."
Jo said, "If you have love in your heart, a safe warm environment and can stand above the noise of the naysayers, just have a go. It's about opening your heart and being the constant for a child in their journey while they grow into wonderful members of society."
Kaz and Jo are realistic when it comes to opening their home as foster carers and open about both the joys and challenges it brings.
"We have been lucky enough to have little babies in our care and watching them smile for the first time, eat solid foods, and reach their milestones has certainly shown us we have made the right decision. With kids who come into care who are shy and not sure, to see them respond to you reading a book or playing games with them is incredibly rewarding and brings great joy to our little family," says Jo.
"The most challenging situations have been settling into a routine. Each child has different needs. Depending on the age of the child - it can be easier with babies, but for toddlers and little kids it can prove to be a work in progress. We are up for it though!" says Kaz.
When asked what advice they would give people who were looking to be foster carers the message was genuine, simple and united, "Do it! Research agencies and what they offer to their carers. Don't do foster care just for yourself, do it for the kids. Take one day at a time and know your own boundaries and the boundaries of the child. If you have love in your heart and a spare room in your home then pick-up the phone today and call Life Without Barriers."
Jo said, "When we were looking for a fostering agency we looked for support, communication and commitment to be there for us while we are there for those who need our care. Life Without Barriers has been amazing. We feel part of a big family."
Kaz and Jo are the example of resilience, love, empathy, a sense of fun and honesty. It was such a pleasure to share an afternoon with them, I was sad to leave. So moved by the power and selfless generosity of these wonderful foster carers, I am not ashamed to say I shed a few tears on my way home.
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.