Home away from home
FOR children caught in the middle of family upheaval, abuse or neglect, a friendly face or a quiet space are among the things that can help them rest and begin to heal.
One such local friendly face is Lisa Detlefsen, who has been a regular foster carer for Upper Murray Family Care (UMFC) for around a year.
A teacher, she said she decided to become involved in foster care as way to help support kids “who have a hard start in life” and care for children.
“I got into it because I knew I could provide a nice safe place,” she said.
Since she has been a foster carer, Lisa estimates that she has cared for 11 different children in total, aged between 12 months and eight years old.
She has also taken on different kinds of care, from respite to short term and longer stays, and she said that while foster care is not without its challenges, it is ultimately rewarding.
“The little ones need more physical support, while the older ones need more emotional support,” Lisa said. “They’re just little kids who need a safe space. “It doesn’t take them long to settle in. “They want to be kids playing, same as everybody else.”
Her comfortable home is a haven for children in need, with a spare bedroom kept aside for them to sleep, a sunny yard and a small litter of guinea pigs she cares for.
Lisa remarked that the guinea pigs were often a therapeutic focal point for children staying with her, as they could play with them and talk to them.
When children are in her care, Lisa lets them play or spends time with them doing simple things, and said that having a simple routine often helps the children as well.
In all, she said the children being with family matters the most.
“The primary goal is for them to be back home,” Lisa said.
“I get satisfaction in knowing that I’ve helped someone.
“It’s just really fun to have [children] with me, because they’re really sweet.
“They’re really resilient and inspiring.”
She urged those considering foster care to get in touch with UMFC, saying that the organisation welcomed carers from all walks of life.
UMFC, who currently have 80 active carers in the region and see an average of 30 referrals a month, need carers and are happy to hear from anyone interested in fulfilling a foster care role.
“People think if they work, or don’t have children of their own, have a dog, live on a farm, or rent their home that these are hurdles – none of these are,” said Jeanine Aughey (recruitment, assessment and training foster care at UMFC.
“Currently we are experiencing a demand for carers to support sibling groups.
“We are looking for carers who are willing to care for multiple children from the same family to prevent them from being separated.
“Children being separated from their siblings can add to their experience of loss and grief.”
Even if you don’t think foster care is for you, Jeanine urged the public to consider donating to Trust in Kids, an organisation that provides financial support for children in foster care.
For more information, call UMFC on (03) 5720 0000, go to the webpage at www.umfc. com.au or see their page on Facebook.
GIVING BACK: As a foster carer, Wangaratta woman Lisa Detlefsen regularly opens her home to children in need.
FURRY FRIENDS: Many children that Lisa cares for enjoy spending time playing with, and caring for, her guinea pigs.