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