Foster Carers' Stories
Click on the images below to read about some of our Foster Carers and their experiences. This will help you gain a better understanding of what it’s really like being a Foster Carer with us.
Being a Foster Carer
Jacintha and Eddie
Jacintha and Eddie
Having started as foster carers in 2009 with the support of LWB, Jacintha and Eddie love the idea of having a large family around them. Now with a sibling group of four foster children in their home, they say the experience has been thoroughly rewarding for them on many levels.
With a child of their own (now 20), they were attracted to the idea of supporting more children and young people through fostering, and to be able to provide them with a safe and loving environment in which to learn and grow.
While living in the UK as a younger person, Eddie had seen his parents doing foster care.
“I was fascinated with what they did and we were all so proud when they received an MBE in 2012 from the Queen for services to children and community,” Eddie said. This life experience shaped both his and Jacintha’s interest in and understanding of what it might mean to foster children in their own home. Eddie and Jacintha have always been surrounded by children and had helped Eddie’s parents a lot over the years, so fostering was almost a natural progression for them. When they relocated to Australia and started exploring fostering in more detail, they moved into a big house specifically to provide the opportunity for sharing this space with children and giving them a home. Initially signing up as respite carers, they went on to explore longer term foster care opportunities through Life Without Barriers.
Christine has been a foster carer with Life Without Barriers for over nine years. Christine has been a foster mother for over 100 children and during this time has helped make a difference in each child’s life, whether it be for a short-term stay or long-term period at her home.
“Some people say to me it must be difficult being a foster carer. But I always say they should keep in mind that we are just here as stepping stones for the kids so they keep progressing. We have an opportunity to make a difference to their lives through our involvement with them, by being there to help them along their journey,” said Christine.
Becoming a foster carer can be seen as challenging, but Christine finds it a vastly rewarding experience: “For me, it’s all about the children I support. Seeing their smiles and their contentment while in my care is a reward itself.”
“Each child has their own milestones that they reach, and every small achievement is a great success for them. Whether it’s learning to eat by themselves or developing their hand-eye coordination, it’s fantastic to be part of. When they start to vocalise and communicate with me – each in their own way – it’s a great feeling.”
South Australian Carers
For the past 15 years Donna has helped raise and nurture 28 children as a foster carer and most recently with Life Without Barriers. Growing up with her own parents as foster carers, moving into a caring role herself had seemed like a natural progression.
As a child volunteering at soup kitchens and raising money for charity, Donna had always been community minded. When she volunteered and took on foster caring, she didn’t see herself as anyone special, except that she recognised her interest in playing a part in the futures of young Australians.
Originally from Melbourne, Donna took a detour via the Top End before settling in Ballarat in rural Victoria. She started her foster care life as a single woman, which she says was also an easy decision. “Foster caring is something anyone can do. If you have an interest, I would just encourage you to think about how you can play a part in the future of young people in need of care.
Donna said the most rewarding moments are often the small ones, like seeing a child relax and start to be able to joke with you might be a huge breakthrough.
“Those moments make it all worthwhile,” she said. “All of their achievements will bring you joy personally. If you’re lucky enough to see a child you care for run for the first time, or to hear them speak their first word, it’s something you will cherish always.”
Having experienced the challenges of caring and teaching in remote Aboriginal communities, Donna is passionate about the network of support that all carers require. “Keeping connected with the care team in a remote area can require more effort, but when you are committed to getting the best for the children in your care, making an extra effort is so worthwhile.”
“Even if you feel there’s a steep learning curve for you personally, I encourage you to give some thought to becoming a carer. There’s great training available at Life Without Barriers, and an ongoing network of support for you any time you need it, 24 hours, 7 days.
‘The children also have a web of support around them as well, with case managers to keep in contact and regularly visit the children,” she said.
Life Without Barriers has supported thousands of people to live the best life possible and they are proud to champion opportunity for all. They are a not-for-profit organisation working in more than 260 communities nationally to support more than 11 000 people to live their best life possible.
During a career break six years ago, Paul and his wife Chris decided to use their time to do something else to help the community. Both being teachers, they were aware of the issues facing disadvantaged children and the idea of fostering captured their imagination. They felt particularly drawn to be trained as therapeutic foster carers, giving a home to children requiring additional support with behaviour management or who may have a disability.
Foster carers interested in therapeutic care are provided with additional training in how to create a therapeutic home environment that helps children overcome the effects of trauma, grief and loss. The couple are united in their belief that a good foster care experience gives children a chance to build resilience and grow up in a safe, secure environment.
“Through the training and support provided, you won’t feel like you’ve been left on your own” the couple said. “Our Supporter of Carers listens to us, help resolve issues and their vast knowledge of the fostering system helps us every step of the way for advice.”
Marcia and Trevor
Marcia and Trevor have been caring for children and young people for over 35 years.
When we asked how many children they had cared for over the years, they lost count at 50. Through foster care, they know many families and sometimes have cared for children from several generations.
Well known in the Kalgoorlie region, Marcia and Trevor together speak five languages and value their culture enormously. Trevor is a Traditional Land Owner of the Wongatha people and a member of the Waljen (WAL-Yen) tribe. “Our own children speak my husband’s traditional language at home in Kalgoorlie, and my language when we are at home with family in Perth,” Marcia said.
Trevor and Marcia use their knowledge of Aboriginal people and communities to help connect children in their care to relatives, making them feel part of their extended family.
Through their care program, they identify where each foster child is from and then teach them the language and traditions of their cultural background. They also focus on bush outings and bush tucker along with Aboriginal language to keep children connected to culture.
They focus on building a warm, secure environment, being involved in activities to make them happy and bring laughter and joy into their lives. One child who they have supported said he wished to look after Nan and Pop when they are old.
Marcia says they keep going because there are so many children who are disadvantaged and have been through significant hardship and pain.
They tell the children we can’t make changes to history – but we can make a change to ourselves and grow up and take on responsibility for our lives. Marcia says “We teach the children that tomorrow is a new day – every day is a new beginning and there are always good things to look forward to.”
Both Trevor and Marcia learnt from their own parents and families who grew up in the bush. They are both the first generation living out of the bush, but their parents believed in and gave them the opportunity to access education. Marcia said their own families taught them the importance of playing a part in their community – whether it is simply by just sharing meals and giving friendship and support
Eleanor and John
Providing support for young children in need of care was not something Eleanor and husband John had always thought they would do, but when life changed for them after their own kids had grown up, they became interested in Foster Care.
Eleanor had three children of her own now in their 20s when she convinced husband John that there was more they could do to support the local community through part time foster caring. “Being empty nesters and not having a family at home, we felt there was more we could do in a part time capacity to support children in need of extra care,” she said.
With friends working in the social services sector, Eleanor said that in learning more about LWB’s Foster Care programs, she quickly learned that the focus is all about the children.
“I realized there is a lot to be achieved from taking on respite care to support children on a short break away from their regular carers. “There are lots of kids out there who need a home and people to care for them. A warm, friendly and supportive atmosphere is something we felt we can easily provide.
“There is so much support from us from LWB, with the Support team making regular visits, so we can always discuss any issues and debrief, which gives a real sense of the network of support that is wrapping around these kids. Being a Foster Carer is all about being kind and tolerant, being compassionate, and maintaining a sense of humour,” Eleanor said.
“It can be stressful, but it’s great to know you can always ask for help. As a couple, we’ve learned how to work together, to listen to each other and to work together to provide the best support and guidance to the kids.
“The children we support have been respite placements, with short stays on the weekends to give the full time carers a break. We’ve also been able to provide short term placement for children while they are transitioning to a permanent home
“John and I both work in other roles, so having a child on a permanent basis would not work for us, although we are deeply committed to ensuring any child who comes to us has the best possible care and stability that we can provide when they are with us.
“Sometimes it’s just about giving the children choices and the opportunity to make decisions on things like food or activities, which in some cases they have not experienced before. We are conscious that LWB works hard to place any children requiring foster care into the best possible family or home situation that meets their own individual needs and situation.”
Steven and Kim
Steven and Kim became interested in foster care after managing a family day care business for many years. They now contribute hours of their own time to supporting 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, and to know 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 could 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
“We ‘ve been able to provide a welcoming home for kids who may not experience the regular routines of extended family, and can fulfill a supportive mentoring role as they grow up. It is so rewarding to see them develop into wonderful young people.
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 they 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.”
Tracey and Darren
Tracey and Darren had raised two children of their own and felt they wanted to do more for the community. First considering foster care while living in the UK, when they moved to Australia they knew it was something they wanted to take on.
Starting out as emergency carers, they initially provided short term care for children transitioning and respite care for children taking a break from their regular homes. Darren worked full-time and although this was rewarding and fulfilling, Tracey said she felt they had capacity to take on children on a more permanent basis. “I just thought, well I’ve got a big heart and if I had room in my house, I could take on more,” she said.
“I hadn’t thought about it in detail and whether I would take on children with complex needs, or those who needed behavioural support or other special care, but I knew I had to do more” she said.
“Our boys have been so open to the change and have been actually really protective of the younger children living with us.” Tracey said that just seeing the children smile gives them true rewards. “We love seeing the children feeling comfortable and safe, and knowing they have a place to call home and people who love and care for them.
“Caring for the children gives me a real sense of purpose and enjoyment in my life. I am delighted when the children start to trust us and open up, and know they can talk about their problems to someone who will listen and who really cares.” she said.
Tracey said children with complex needs may require extra care and resilience on the part of the foster carers, but they delight in being able to give them the nurturing they need to grow and thrive.