Mother-of-four fosters a caring heart
CARDUP resident Melissa knew she could make a difference to the life of a child by opening the doors of her home.
The mother of four become a foster carer two years ago and has helped look after 15 children needing emergency, short term or long-term care.
“I knew there was a need to help children,” she said.
“There are a number of children that come through the system. It would be fantastic for more foster carers to come on board.”
In February this year, Melissa took on her first long term foster child, a 10year-old Aboriginal boy, who will stay with the family until he is 18.
The young boy, who cannot be named, has fitted in “beautifully” with the family and gets along really well with Melissa’s four biological children aged nine, 15, 17 and 18.
“Basically, they come into your home and you treat them like one of your own,” she said. “You make sure their needs are met socially, make sure they’re safe, there is a roof over their head and food in their tummy.
“If they need extra care, such as speech therapy, it is all provided for.”
Melissa said the success of being a good foster parent relied on boundaries being put in place and ensuring all children, biological and non-biological, were treated equally.
She also strongly believes in the need for Aboriginal children to remain engaged with their own culture and makes sure her foster son sees his family on a fortnightly basis.
“I can only give him so much culturally,” she said. “I can take him to cultural events, give him books and try and incorporate the Nyungar language at home, but because I’m non-Aboriginal, I can’t give him the Aboriginal cultural contact day-in and day-out.
“Culture is extremely important for them because they still miss their families and it’s not their fault they are in care.”
Melissa said if there was ever the opportunity for her foster child to go back to his biological family, she would help him do that, as much as she would miss him.
“At the end of the day it’s about making sure he is okay,” she said.
“I’ve learned a lot from him; it goes both ways.
“What you put into the children you get out and you get the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve helped someone.”
Melissa said her foster son has also helped to enhance the lives of her own children, by teaching them that not everybody was as lucky as they were.
Foster carer Melissa has looked after 15 children.