Mother-of-four fosters a car­ing heart

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - South East Metropolitan -

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.

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