Fos­ter­ing re­ward­ing say mums

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Janie Smith

Bring­ing an un­known child into your home may seem like a scary task, but for two foster moth­ers it’s proved a hugely re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Pamela and Loren, whose last names can’t be used for se­cu­rity rea­sons, pro­vide foster care through Barnar­dos So­cial Work Ser­vices in Royal Oak.

Pamela started do­ing short-term respite care 15 years ago, af­ter she had her first daugh­ter.

She trained through Barnar­dos while preg­nant.

“I thought: ‘I don’t know much about chil­dren and I’m about to have a baby’ so I thought I would do some cour­ses.”

She found an ad­ver­tise­ment for Barnar­dos foster par­ent train­ing and de­cided to give it a go.

“I en­joyed it and got stuck in.”

De­spite hav­ing three more chil­dren of her own, she kept fos­ter­ing and has cared for more than 100 chil­dren.

They ranged in age from new­born ba­bies to 16-yearolds and were of all na­tion­al­i­ties.

See­ing the chil­dren re­turn to their fam­i­lies or go to new homes can be dif­fi­cult, she says.

But see­ing the youngsters de­velop and come out of their shell is re­ward­ing.

“It’s nice to know you’re help­ing some­one out and not gain­ing any­thing.”

Pamela and her part­ner are able to of­fer a sense of se­cu­rity, sta­bil­ity and fam­ily that chil­dren thrive on.

“We all live in a big house with a big sec­tion and we all chip in,” says Pamela.

Her own chil­dren have also ben­e­fited from the ex­pe­ri­ence.

“My kids ap­pre­ci­ate life a lot more than if I didn’t do foster care.

“They are more thank­ful,” she says.

Loren and her part­ner came to fos­ter­ing to pro­vide a per­ma­nent home for a child.

The cou­ple have two young chil­dren and wanted to in­crease their fam­ily.

“We went into it think­ing we would get an older child,” she says.

“We thought it must be hard for peo­ple to find homes for older chil­dren in need.”

But foster chil­dren must be younger than the el­dest child in the house­hold for per­ma­nent place­ment, which would have meant a long wait.

Af­ter fin­ish­ing their train­ing last Oc­to­ber, they got a call in De­cem­ber ask­ing if they would be in­ter­ested in pro­vid­ing a home for a six­mon­th­baby girl.

“We couldn’t be­lieve our luck.”

Their new daugh­ter is now 15 months old and the cou­ple were re­cently awarded guardian­ship by the courts.

“It’s all worked out so well. We see fam­ily as fam­ily, no mat­ter how it was cre­ated,” she says.

Se­nior so­cial worker Rachel Jurd says the small Barnar­dos team has a work­ing knowl­edge of all its foster fam­i­lies, what kind of care they pro­vide and what their home sit­u­a­tion is.

“We are in their lives a lot. We come into their homes and hear the is­sues go­ing on and the fam­ily stuff as well.”

Shar­ing their lives helps build mu­tual trust be­tween fam­i­lies and so­cial work­ers, she says.

Rachel says a lot of ef­fort is put into match­ing chil­dren with care­givers to min­imise the num­ber of moves they have to make.

Peo­ple can choose to of­fer dif­fer­ent kinds of care, from short to long term.

For com­mu­nity-based respite care, where there are no care and pro­tec­tion is­sues for the child, peo­ple can of­fer times like one week­end a month or part of the school hol­i­days.

Short to medium-term fos­ter­ing can be any­thing from 24 hours to a cou­ple of years and some fam­i­lies of­fer per­ma­nent homes for foster chil­dren.

Fam­i­lies are trained and have to pass po­lice, med­i­cal and Child, Youth and Fam­ily checks.

Rachel says foster par­ents don’t have to be mar­ried or have chil­dren of their own and can pro­vide care around their work­ing hours.

For more in­for­ma­tion on fos­ter­ing, phone 625-0550.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Re­ward­ing role: Foster par­ents Pamela, left, and Loren love pro­vid­ing care for needy chil­dren.

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