Stacey is a young woman with an exciting future. She is 18 and studying at Newcastle University, with plans to complete a social work degree and work with other young people, either in foster care or in a health setting. She’s just moved out on her own and bought a new car, and also holds down two casual jobs.
Stacey, along with her brother and sister, had to be removed from her parents when Stacey was four years old.
"It was kind of strange, like I just didn't know what was happening," Stacey said about that time. "Random people came to my front door and the next thing I knew I was going away from Mum... and yeah, I didn't know what was happening until a good two or three years later when I understood I didn't live with Mummy and Daddy anymore."
Stacey and her siblings went through two other placements before they were placed with her long term carer, who Stacey lived with for 11 years until she moved out on her own a few months ago.
Stacey's face lights up when she talks about her carer and her family.
"My carer's family took me in because they were a loving family and it was important to me because I needed that love and support to help me grow as a person. Without that, I wouldn't have a sense of identity of who I am as a person today."
Stacey has had lots of good times with her carer, who made sure Stacey and her siblings had all the same opportunities that her own children had. "She taught us how to swim, she made us do new sports. Tennis, netball, soccer. We also did choir," Stacey said. "We also did surf lessons, horse riding and great adventures during the school holidays."
"I remember my carer's eldest son - we used to have a trampoline out the back and if it was raining, he used to grab the soap and put it all over the trampoline, and of course we would get in trouble!" Stacey laughs.
"Pretty much with my carer's family, we fought like normal siblings, we played like normal siblings and that whole family took me in like their own family."
Even though she's out on her own now, Stacey still sees her carer regularly. "We still go on our normal coffee dates. We still have our lunch get-togethers and she is always still caring for me."
"When I moved out, she was coming over almost every single day helping me get my apartment together. She's given me plants just so my house can be homey. She's just been supportive and if I need anything, she's always there for me."
When Stacey is asked about what qualities she feels foster carers should have, she said, "I think carers should understand where the young person's coming from. If the behaviour is out of place, there's obviously something deeper going on."
"I also think carers should treat the young people how they want their children to be treated if their children were in foster care. I also reckon carers should spend a lot of time with the young person and teach them new skills."
"I reckon it's also important that you should also know it's not all easy," Stacey added. "There's up and down situations."
When asked how she's adjusting to living out of home, Stacey said, "Going from a household of nine to one is different! I've also realised how expensive living on your own is! The good thing is, my carer's family are living around the corner. I've also got my carer a phone call away so I'm not always alone."
We have no doubt Stacey is going to do great things!
Young person - care leaver
Kieren is a young man who works full time with plans to buy a house in the future. He entered foster care at the age of 12 and says his foster carer has played a big part in who he is today.