What does it mean to be a child in care?
Our care leavers tell us it is open, loving, safe adults who are ready and willing to listen that have the most impact as foster carers.
Image: Kieren's carer significantly impacted his life when growing up in foster care
Children enter foster care for a variety of reasons, but the common thread is often a complex family environment that may have led to the child suffering neglect, trauma or abuse. While each child has a unique set of needs based upon their journey so far, all children are looking for unfailing love and support; the building blocks they need to grow as a person.
Image: Stacey grew up with a long term carer throughout her teen years
It is that open, loving family that makes the difference to a child in care. "My carer's family took me in because they were a loving family," said Stacey a young person who has now aged out of care with Life Without Barriers.
"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, foster care leaver
Stacey notes there are certain qualities that help people become great foster carers. "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."
Image: Chloie, now a young adult, continues to have a wonderful relationship with her carers
Chloie, another young woman who thrived in foster care with Life Without Barriers believes it is listening to the young people in care that makes all the difference. "Listen to what they [kids] have to say, because they've been through a lot and they might have issues but if you just listen to them and understand their needs, everything should work out." Just like any other parent or parent figure, foster carers become one of the greatest influences in the lives of a young person. Kieran, who was in foster care in his adolescence with Life Without Barriers believes it is his carer who made him the person he is today.
"I can deal with people better because whenever I had a struggle or disagreement at school or with one of the other foster kids, he'd let us deal with it ourselves - but if it was going the wrong way, he'd come in and show us how we could better deal with the situation and next time when it happened we'd do it better."
— Kieran, foster care leaver
It is these little day to day moments that not only teach us, but shape who we are to become. If you have a desire to provide a safe, nurturing and loving home to young people who are unable to life safely with their families, consider becoming a foster carer today.
Chief Executive Claire Robbs is a champion of National Families W...
National Families Week is held annually from 15 May to 21 May (coinciding with the United Nations Internationa...
Peer Parent and Family Advocacy in Child Protection
By Jessica Cocks, Churchill Fellow 2016, New South Wales