Steven and Kim
"You need to listen to the child and let them be the person they want to be."
Meet Steve and Kim
It's fair to say that Steven and Kim are a part of the Life Without Barriers (LWB) family. Kim is a client herself with LWB through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), and they are also incredible and celebrated foster carers for Life Without Barriers. Steven and Kim became interested in foster care after managing a family day care business for many years. They now support foster children in need of weekend respite and a home away from home.
Reaching a time in their lives when they wanted to make lifestyle changes, they moved to a rural property and began supporting foster children after completing their training with Life Without Barriers. "Moving to a farm gave us the freedom, fresh air and opportunity to experience a better quality of life," Steven said.
"We love children, and we wanted to share that love and help kids feel settled and secure. We wanted them to feel that they have a network of other people in their lives who would care for and support them," he said. "Out on the farm, the kids especially love it as there is so much to do. They can let go of their anxieties and have adventures in the outdoors which they may not be able to do every day."
The couple are delighted to have found their niche in fostering which has been another way to show their unwavering community spirit. While providing weekend respite for children in foster care, they now balance these responsibilities along with allowing the time needed for Steven to care for Kim during the week as she lives with Multiple Sclerosis.
Since 2008, Steven and Kim have provide respite care for over 20 children and say, "Every child is different and, as such, needs to be treated differently to get the best out of them as well as help, teach, guide them. You must always set a good example and practice what you preach. You also need to listen to the child and let them be the person they want to be. Gently guide, love them no matter what and never give up on them."
Kim and Steven provide weekend care usually on two weekends every month. Steven said although this may not seem like a big time commitment, it's an important support for other Foster Carers in the network. "We are very conscious that both the carers and the kids we support need a break, and we are able to provide that alternative weekend away.
"The great thing about foster caring is the extensive support provided to us and to the children. Each child has a case worker who follows up on them regularly, and there are carer support staff who assist and guide us to ensure the best decisions are always made in the interests of the children we support. They also remind us to look after our own physical and emotional health which helps make us the best carers we can be."
Steven strongly empathises with foster children as he himself felt like an outcast growing up, "As a child, I was born with a cleft palate or harelip. This meant I looked and talked differently to most other kids and didn't fit the mould of ‘normal'. School and life was tough at times and so I know how to talk to some of these kids about feeling like you don't fit in sometimes."
When asked about the highlights of being foster carers, Kim's eyes light-up and she responds, "the first time you hear a child in care, who has been through a lot, really let go and laugh takes your breath away. When you see them get their first award, trophy or prize. When they say, ‘that the nicest meal that I have ever eaten'. Going camping together or taking them to a fun park for the first time. I could go on and on about the joys."
On a serious note, Kim and Steve have come clear advice to those interested in becoming foster carers, "Please think carefully before making the commitment. We need carers who will stick it out. It's not something you do for a few days and then say ‘no sorry that's not for me' and leave the child feeling rejected, unloved and unwanted. Have an open mind. Be willing to keep trying something new until it finally all clicks."
It seems fitting we give the last word to the big softie we all know and love as Steve, "Fostering has helped to make my life complete. I am honoured to be able to give these children the love and care they deserve. This is such an important role! These kids need us, but we also must be the very best that we can be so that we don't let them down. Please help these kids to have healthy, happy and fulfilling lives so that they can reach their full potential. Create lasting memories and never give up on them."
Here, here Steve!
Long-term care for kids of all ages
Margaret is a proud Aboriginal woman who has devoted her life to caring for others. She has been a carer for 15 years and is showing no signs of slowing down
Short term carer for 5-18 year olds
Working full-time in a demanding job hasn’t stopped Belinda from living out her dream of being a carer. She manages to make it fit with her lifestyle by doing weekend respite and emergency care.