For Georgie, making a difference meant being able to offer a safe space to those children who needed it most. Georgie took her first steps to becoming a foster carer after seeing an ad in her school newsletter.
“My philosophy is to give the children in my care great experiences, whether at home or out and about in the community.”
“Over time, the feeling that I could share my home and my heart with children who needed love, fun and safety drew me to foster caring. As a single parent of one child, having other children in our home would be great company for my child.”
And while being a foster carer hasn’t been without its challenges, Georgie has found that the rewards are much greater.
“Being a foster carer can be so much fun. My philosophy is to give the children in my care great experiences, whether at home or out and about in the community. We always have fun. We build memories. Just expect that all children may have challenging behaviours to some degree. Be prepared and be skilled so you know how to respond in trauma-informed ways.”
This preparation and skill can come naturally to some people or with years of experience and training. For Georgie, the free training resources on offer have been invaluable for learning.
“I have a full time career and haven’t always been able to attend training on offer. When it is offered in flexible ways (online or onsite) in flexible timeframes (after work, weekends) it suits me best. I appreciate the training that is offered for free, and my resume is looking great with all the skills and qualifications I now have.”
And as well as lots of new skills and qualifications, Georgie has found great comfort in having a supportive community of carers to reach out to. Speaking fondly of her network of foster carers, Georgie says…
“It is so good to speak to other carers, share experiences of the difficulties and rewards, and know that you are not alone in your journey of making a child’s life safe and happy.”
Georgie also had some final words of advice for anyone else considering making the life changing decision to become a foster carer.
“I feel so much love for these kids who want to do their best, and when they can’t, depend on me to safely and calmly hold their emotions and behaviours.
For anyone thinking about becoming a foster carer, stop just thinking about it. Do it. You won’t regret it. And take advantage of any ongoing carer training that is offered. I can guarantee you will be able to use the skills and knowledge with any children in your care.”
When Jacinda met a young, misunderstood boy with a troubled home life, she knew with some patience and understanding she could make a difference to his life, and so her life as a foster carer began.
“I was working as a Social Worker through my previous job, and worked with a young boy who I knew had experienced a challenging home life, much like my own. I knew that child safety was involved with the family and that it was likely that he would be removed. He had a lot of challenging behaviours because of his trauma and was very misunderstood and I worried that he would be a child bounced around the system due to these challenges. I felt that maybe I would be a good fit for him and started the assessment process to become a foster carer.”
The journey wasn’t without its initial hurdles, but Jacinda persevered, determined to become the foster carer she was destined to be.
“I spoke with a foster care provider in Launceston about the requirements to become a foster carer. The process was long and emotional as you are expected to reflect on your own history, both the good parts and some of the not-so-great aspects. I found this process emotionally draining and the anxiety of not knowing whether I would be approved as a foster carer was head spinning. After receiving the confirmation that I was approved it became a frantic few weeks of training and sorting out the house to make room for kids. I met the young boy at the park and we played together running and jumping off the playground equipment. Before long, he had moved in full time and I haven’t looked back.”
For Jacinda, not looking back meant tackling all challenges head on. Thanks to her patience and support, the rewards have been plentiful.
“I had a lot of challenging behavioural issues with one of the kids placed in my care. There was screaming for the first 12 months, and a lot of defiance. I have fought against the system for the kids and at times been met with no outcomes. All the kids in care have had some level of trauma and as a result exhibit trauma behaviour. I was once told that it takes 12 months to change behaviours. Which infuriated me, but low and behold, the day before the 12 month mark, the behaviours stopped.”
“My reward is I get to tuck the kids into bed every night and follow our same routine. I walk down the hallway at night checking on the kids, and I feel gratitude and feel so privileged that I have these amazing kids in my life. From kids that were so shy and couldn’t give or receive affection, kids that couldn’t talk as a result of trauma, kids that are so angry and feel so unlovable, to a point where you hear them giggling and laughing through the house or constantly wanting hugs after years of not. It’s hard to list what are the good parts without listing how lucky I genuinely feel.”
It’s safe to say this experience has been life-changing for Jacinda as she herself has discovered the beauty of family and unconditional love.
“Going into foster care, we are told that we change kids’ lives but no one mentioned how much it would change my life and how much better life would be for me. This wasn’t an instant overnight change, but I forever feel more wholesome from this experience and the family I have created. I have really good relationships of respect and appreciation with most of the families of the kids, we have phone calls and see the families on a regular basis and for the most part, the interactions are positive. The kids get to see the relationships I have with their birth families.”
“I struggle to put into words how my life has changed. I have become a parent to a number of kids, I cry a lot more than I think I ever have. I have learnt the beauty of family and unconditional love and positive regard for the kids in my life. I can’t really think of a time when I didn’t have kids in my life and what that looked like. I sleep less, cook more, and the laundry is never finished. We do movie nights and sing as loud as possible and completely off key on a regular basis. Life has never felt so meaningful and so worthwhile like it does now.”
Jacinda also had great things to say about the support and training she has received…
“I have access to my provider 24/7 and have always felt supported by the team. Sometimes I call to vent about particular situations. We have a number of hospital stays where respite is organised for my other kids so I can be where I need to be. We have support and coaching where we unpack the month, and we have support for care team meetings or if we need help with managing pickups and appointments. I am incredibly grateful for the support I receive as a foster carer.”
…and some final, heartfelt advice for future foster carers.
“If you have time, space and will be dedicated to being part of something amazing and sharing your life with children or young people, then I recommend becoming a foster carer. My main advice would be to start the way you intend on finishing with these kids, whether that is for the short term, or the long haul, it will forever change you as a person.”
“The life I have been able to create for both me and the children in my care have been some of the hardest times for me personally but the strength and resilience you get to see in the kids changes everything for the better. You need to be a strong advocate for the kids because if we aren’t fighting in their corner, then who is.”
For Von, having parents who decided to become foster carers was all the inspiration she needed to make a difference to someone’s life herself.
“My dad had been a foster child in England during World War II. Many children were forcibly removed from London and placed in care while they and their parents fled the London bombing. Dad was forever grateful to the carers he had. When my brother and I were older teenagers, my dad and mum decided they would become foster parents. They were a great inspiration to me.”
“I did some research and then approached a provider with questions and my desire. I then signed up with them and commenced my training. When ready I then started by doing respite care.”
And since becoming a foster carer, Von’s life has changed dramatically, for the better, with her priorities shifting towards a more rewarding, fulfilling life.
“I used to be focused on climbing the corporate ladder and thriving on stress. Now I thrive on laughter and enjoying moments. Time has really slowed down – well with little kids you need a lot of patience and get used to lots of waiting. It’s made my days pass so much slower and way more fulfilled.”
Sure, there are the challenges that come with dealing with a child’s past trauma, but with time and patience, Von has been able to form a true bond with her foster children.
“I think being a parent is the hardest, most challenging job in the world. Add to that the trauma the children have – and they all have some form of trauma, it can sometimes make even the simplest tasks hard.”
“But those laughs. Kids are hilarious. The fun and games. All the crafts I get to do. The love, so much love. These kids love you with all their heart and it’s the most beautiful gift to receive. I truly feel like a mum. I thought I’d always feel like their aunt or foster mum. I wasn’t expecting the bond we share to be so complete.”
For a first time foster carer, the experience can initially be overwhelming, but Von has found that a supportive network of carers and constant, free training, have made the journey so much smoother.
“I’ve had great support throughout my journey. I can’t thank them enough. Everyone is so genuine and caring and that is so very rare to find in life or work.”
“The training I’ve received so far has been great. The topics covered are always very helpful and each training module I walk away with so much to think about and lots to put into practice. Make sure your home is ready first and you have life sorted to fit kids into it. It’s a busy ride once they arrive.”
And along with all the new memories Von has made, there are other special moments that make her feel like being a foster carer is the best decision she’s made.
“A previous foster child still calls me on mothers day to wish me a happy day and tells me I’ll always be their other mum. She’s happily and safely back with her family yet still holds me in her heart as I do her.”