People from all backgrounds and walks of life are encouraged to become foster carers.
Image: Foster cares Fiona and Micahel are holding five years of service certificates and standing with two Life Without Barriers staff.
Foster Care Week is an annual week celebrating foster carers and kinship carers in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania. This year, 2023, Foster Care Week is running from Sunday 10 to Saturday 16 September.
This year, we caught up with some of the foster carers who are changing the lives of children and young people across Australia. We feel inspired after speaking to them and we hope you feel inspired to, and maybe - just maybe, look into how you can start your foster care journey.
Image: Specialist foster carers Sally and Brad are standing in the sun. They are both wearing black tops.
Meet Sally and Brad
Sally and Brad provide long-term care, short-term care, and respite care and are currently long-term foster carers for a young boy with a disability, who has been with them since 2019.
Sally and Brad both work in the disability sector and have the passion, knowledge and heart to provide foster care for a young person with disability.
When asked how they found the onboarding process, Sally shared.
"It was really great, we had a lot of support from Life Without Barriers, especially from our case manager."
When asked about a favourite moment in the carer journey, Brad shared how they have seen him come out of his shell and gain confidence.
"To see him hang around with other kids whereas previously he wouldn't have done that, it is so good to see."
Image: Long-term carers Tania, Ahlyss and Vili stand in the sun and smile at the camera. Tania is wearing a green shirt, Ahlyss is wearing a grey dress and Vili is in a black jacket.
Meet Tania, Ahlyss and Vili
Ten years as foster carers with Life Without Barriers.
This incredible family have been providing long-term foster care since 2013 and have cared long-term for two boys in that time. One of the boys, Stefan, is now 19 and continues to live with the family. They also have provided respite care over the decade, with Life Without Barriers.
When asked how they prepared for their foster son, Tania said it was mainly about preparing their three children for the change.
"We wanted to make sure that our children were older than the kids coming into our care." Said Tania.
"Accurate knowledge of the history of the young person helps too." Said Villi as they provide complex care, 'very complex' Tania and Vili laughed.
Ahlyss shared what it was like being a teenager and having two boys with complex care needs move in with her and her siblings.
"It was hard, but there was nothing we couldn't talk about. We were very supported by our parents. It made our family bigger, and made us more aware of the different types of people out there."
'It helped us in our growth as well." Said Ahlyss.
Vili added that it is so important to go into being a foster carer for the right reason.
"You must have the heart for it, if you don't have the heart for it. Don't do it."
Image: Respite carer Elaine is wearing a bright green jumper and 'Yes23' pin.
One of our newer carers, Elaine, has been with Life Without Barriers since the start of 2023. She provides emergency care, short-term care and respite care and is currently looking after a young boy.
Elaine says the process of becoming a carer was not a quick one, but it was definitely worth it.
"At first I thought they didn't want me." Elaine laughed, but it just took time.
Thinking of her favourite moments so far, Elaine said;
"We like going bike riding together. I like it when he has fun and has a smile on his face."
"It makes me happy when he is happy."
To prepare herself as a carer, Elaine took to YouTube and also read a lot of books written by carers and by professionals in the space, as well as the training Life Without Barriers offers.
Elaine values the get-togethers Life Without Barriers puts on, so that she can meet and talk to other foster carers in her area.
"I have met some really inspiring carers." She shared.
Image: Long-term carers Fiona and Michael are laughing and hugging. Fiona is wearing an orange cardigan and leopard scarf. Michale is wearing a navy blue shirt.
Meet Fiona and Michael
Five years as foster carers with Life Without Barriers, 17 years as foster carers.
"I like to prepare a little pack to go on their bed with their own toiletries, clothes, and a little gift." Said Fiona.
When asked why they became carers, Fiona said it was to help her community.
"It is a really lovely way to give back."
Michael shared that doing something local was more appealing to them than sponsoring a child overseas.
"We were both in jobs that didn't interact with the community. We wanted to give back...and the adventure started."
Michael shared that one of his favourite moments was attending the wedding of someone he had provided care for.
"I have the picture and button flower still, it is the little things."
They have both been carers for a long time, and have lots of advice to share.
"My advice to people who are considering foster care is to really think about what care you can provide, and advocate for that. Start shorter and know your boundaries." Said Fiona.
Fiona and Michael both enjoy attending events that allow foster carers in the same area to get to know each other and share the highs, and the challenges, and connect.
"I love being a carer at Life Without Barriers, they provide outstanding support." Said Fiona.
Image: Respite carers Teta and Joe stand on a balcony and smile at the camera.
Meet Teta and Joe
Teta and Joe provide ongoing respite care and have always wanted to be carers.
"We just wanted to help out the kids, and provide for those without a home." Said Teta.
They said it is important to work together as a team and to check in with your support network for advice when needed. Joe agreed that being on the same side is important and added;
"I do whatever Teta says."
We thank Life Without Barriers foster and kinship carers for the contribution they make to the lives of children, young people and families in our community!
Can I become a foster carer?
If you have a desire, and the capacity, to provide a safe, respectful, caring environment for children, and want nothing more than to welcome children into your home and life, you can become a foster carer.
Life Without Barriers wants foster carers who will bring security, stability, respect and joy into children’s lives.
Why be a carer with Life Without Barriers?
Our foster carers receive extensive training and 24/7 support to navigate their foster care journey.
We put the needs of the child and carers first to help them thrive.
We value a child's connection to culture, family, and community.
We welcome carers and families in all shapes and sizes from all walks of life.
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