Foster Carers help children live a 'life without barriers'

24 September 2020

Lee and Kim Sinstead currently have three foster children in their care along with their biological son.

About 22 years ago, Kim Sinstead saw something that changed her life forever.

She was working as a teacher's aide and witnessed a troubled student completely transform after they were taken in by a foster carer.

"I saw the difference in the child and knew that's what I wanted to do."

Mrs Sinstead would spend the next two decades caring for more than 60 different children along with her partner Lee.

The children have stayed with the Somerset couple for varying lengths of time, "some for a weekend, others for 18 years".

Mrs Sinstead said there were definitely some special moments, like just seeing a confident and "happy child going off to school and waving goodbye".

"It's challenging but very rewarding," she said.

"And everyone can make a difference." The incredible impact of carers like the Sinsteads was celebrated as part of Foster and Kinship Carer Week.

This year, Life Without Barriers highlighted the significant role cares play in supporting the education of children.

Children in care generally have worse educational outcomes but "caring foster carers can make a real difference," Life Without Barrier Executive Director of Children, Youth and Families Jane French said.

"Children in care have often been through difficult life circumstances and may have experienced trauma."

"So we need empathetic people who are understanding of behavioural issues, can advocate for children's needs at school and build positive relationships with teachers and staff."

"We welcome individuals and families from all cultural and linguistic backgrounds or marital status - single parents, same sex couples, de facto or married couples, with or without children - who are willing to open their hearts and homes to vulnerable children and young people in our communities," Ms French said.

"We're less concerned about age, income or relationship. We need carers with attributes and beliefs we know are good for children, including an ability to understand the value and role of education in a child's life."

Mr Sinstead said there were a lot of children in need of carers and encouraged people to consider it.

"You can't just wait for foster care week," he said.

Originally written by Lachlan Bennett, The Advocate Tasmania, 16 Sept 2020

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