Rais­ing other peo­ple’s chil­dren

Manukau Courier - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - CHRIS HARROWELL

Fiona and Cal­lum McKin­lay are open­ing their home as well as their hearts to chil­dren in need.

The Man­gere Bridge cou­ple are among those whose self­less ded­i­ca­tion is be­ing saluted as part of Fos­ter Care Aware­ness Week, which runs from March 5-11.

Cal­lum and Fiona be­came ap­proved Child, Youth and Fam­ily fos­ter car­ers in late 2014.

They have three adult chil­dren of their own and are cur­rently look­ing af­ter a 10-year-old boy. The cou­ple pro­vide tran­si­tional, or short-term, care.

‘‘[At the start] we got asked to take two sis­ters aged 6 and 9 for three nights and they ended up stay­ing for 16 months,’’ Fiona says.

‘‘We give them the child­hood that our kids had.’’

Fiona works as a care­giver so­cial worker and Cal­lum is a funeral di­rec­tor. They’ve had 10 chil­dren live with them for var­i­ous lengths of time since they be­came fos­ter par­ents.

‘‘A lot of the chil­dren come from trou­bled back­grounds,’’ Cal­lum says.

‘‘We pro­vide them with sta­bil­ity and things they haven’t had, such as rou­tines.

‘‘That means go­ing to bed, get­ting up in the morn­ing and go­ing to school on time.

‘‘I read them a story be­fore they go to bed. Those are all things they may not have had be­fore.’’

Fiona says suc­cess­ful fos­ter par­ents need flex­i­bil­ity and re­silience. She and Cal­lum pro­vide the chil­dren with a safe en­vi­ron­ment.

‘‘It’s a priv­i­lege to look af­ter other peo­ple’s chil­dren. We love them and give them a great life.’’

Min­istry for Vul­ner­a­ble Chil­dren, Oranga Ta­mariki, chief ex­ec­u­tive Grainne Moss says Fos­ter Care Aware­ness Week cel­e­brates and ac­knowl­edges the peo­ple who pro­vide safe, sta­ble and nur­tur­ing homes for chil­dren and young­sters who need it most.

‘‘Any child af­fected by trauma needs un­der­stand­ing and a lov­ing place to be­long so they can flourish.

‘‘I’m al­ways so im­pressed that New Zealan­ders from all walks of life are pro­vid­ing not just a home but car­ing re­la­tion­ships that last well be­yond the time a child might stay with a fam­ily.

‘‘These care­givers play an im­por­tant role in adding to a child’s sense of com­mu­nity, some­thing ev­ery child de­serves.’’

Go to cyf.govt.nz or phone 0508 326 459 for more in­for­ma­tion about what is re­quired to be­come an ap­proved fos­ter carer.

CHRIS HARROWELL

Man­gere Bridge cou­ple Fiona and Cal­lum McKin­lay are mark­ing Fos­ter Care Aware­ness Week.

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