Deniliquin Pastoral Times
Foresting’s just an extension of your own family
A sense of family is important to Lenore Jones and her husband Michael Clark.
That’s why they started a journey of kinship care 16 years ago — taking in children of family members and caring for them like their own.
As the years progressed, Lenore and Michael knew they could do more to help other families in the district who need a little extra support.
As respite carers with CareSouth, offer short term placement for local they children.
It’s a service that is not only beneficial for the foster carers who need a break, but also for the children for whom a change of scenery could mean a world of difference.
‘‘We started offering respite for Aboriginal children, but when we learned there was a need for more foster carers in our district we stepped up and offered to do a bit more as needed,’’ Lenore said.
‘‘It’s a great thing to do, and our family gets so much out of it too.
‘‘Our own children get to see the other side of family dynamics, and to them it’s just like getting another sibling.
‘‘We have five children in the house now, three through care arrangements and two of those on a short term basis.
‘‘But we’ve always had a lot of around, so it’s quite normal for us.
‘‘There are seven of us living in the house, but I’m cooking meals for at least 10 people every night.
‘‘When these children come in to our care, regardless of whether it’s short or long term, we treat them like they are one of our own.
‘‘We’re here to just try and make their lives easier, but we make sure they know there are rules and regulations that everyone in our household must follow.’’
Michael said offering care to a young person is one of the most rewarding things he and Lenore have done.
He said all anyone needs to be able to do the same is compassion and a lot of love to give.
And you’re never on your own, he added. ‘‘The team at CareSouth are always on call if we need them,’’ Michael said.
‘‘You need the support behind you, otherwise it wouldn’t work,’’ Lenore added.
‘‘Anyone can be a carer. It doesn’t matter if you’re single, a couple or what you have. You can even do it if you work full time like I do,’’ she continued.
In July, CareSouth’s Deniliquin office reported a severe shortage of foster carers rarely seen before in any of CareSouth’s regional NSW offices.
In Deniliquin there were seven children and young people in need of a foster family.
And in surrounding communities, the need is just as great.
Since then two people have enquired about becoming carers, but CareSouth Deniliquin office manager Georgia Henderson said help is still desperately needed.
‘‘We are really grateful for the fantastic response from the Deniliquin community to our recent story (Deni and district foster carers in record low supply, PASTORAL TIMES, July 2) and have received some great enquiries for respite and short term carers,’’ she said.
‘‘We are still urgently needing foster carers who are able to provide restoration care. Commonly this is for a period of up to two years.
‘‘Carers provide care for children while we work with families to help them to have their children safely return home. This is for children and young people from babies to age 18 and includes sibling groups.
‘‘We also need carers who are able to provide long term care for children aged 0-18 years, but particularly for children 10 and above.
‘‘The need for foster carers across New South Wales is huge. COVID has impacted carer enquiries but unfortunately there has not been a decrease in children and young people coming into care.
‘‘We need local carers in Deniliquin and surrounding communities to help keep local children in our community.’’
Lenore encouraged anyone who has been considering becoming a foster carer to ‘go for it’.
‘‘At the end of the day, we just hope people in Deniliquin and surrounds have a think about becoming foster carers; even if it’s only respite to give the carers a bit of a break,’’ she said.
■ CareSouth will host a ‘drop in’ session for anyone interested in finding out more about fostering next week. Pop in to CareSouth — at shop 4/344 Cressy St — between 2pm and 6pm on Monday August 16 for a ‘cuppa’ and have your questions answered.