Kerryn has been a carer with Berry St for 39 years and in that time has had a long association with the FCAV to support her in her caring role.
"I fostered two children for four years, they went home to a very dysfunctional family with both parents being drug users. Their old worker met them in court and gave them my name. They came for lunch, which was thirteen years after they left, and I gave them a shoe box full of photos of them from when I had them, which they loved. On talking to the boy, he said he had gone down the wrong path and had been into drugs and also had a child at 17. One day he said to himself that he was “better than this”, but why was he better? Because Kerryn had told him so. So these kids remember things that I had said and it changed his life, he has gotten some certificates and is working in the building trade, and he is involved with his son.
I felt so proud.
Don't ever feel alone, there are many people to talk to. The FCAV is there to answer questions and to give me support when things are tough. They also give me the opportunity to meet with other carers from different agencies, through retreats and lunches etc.
Other carers, your worker, FCAV, they are always there to talk to."
"My husband Andrew and I have been foster parents for 7 years. We have had lots of positive experiences whilst fostering.
One that stands out to me is when we had a young boy who was on the spectrum and meant to be staying for one night. He came to our home terrified and was very difficult to engage with that first night. He went to school the following day not knowing where he would be sleeping that night. At school he attempted self-harm and wound up at the hospital. The agency called me in the afternoon and asked if he could stay with us again. I said yes, he could. I had two pet birds at the time and when he came back home, I told him that the birds had missed him and that we were all glad he came back to stay with us. So, from that moment this young man felt a sense of being wanted and belonging and he settled nicely. He stayed with us for about 18 months. Just knowing that you are welcome and wanted in a home is enough for these kids.
I think the best tip I could give another carer is to try not to imagine what to expect with any new placement. Each child is different, most kids are not textbook children and most have been through a lot in their short lives. Making sure that child feel welcome and wanted in your home is very important and even though you may not see it straight away, those kids will show you eventually that they appreciate you being there for them.
I have contacted FCAV a few times over those years, I have had questions regarding different orders that children have been on that FCAV could easily explain to me and also I have asked for advice regarding some medical issues with one child in my care as well as questions regarding maintaining contact with that child after the placement ended. FCAV have been very knowledgeable and understanding with any query I have had."
Katrina has been a foster carer for almost 10 years.
“We have cared for a complex young man for almost five years on a long-term placement. During his 6th grade at primary school, we were given permission to take him on a 3 month holiday around Australia, just like we did with our biological daughters when they were at the end of their primary school years.
We have always tried to treat him like we did our biological children. He had the opportunity to visit Uluru, learn about and meet Indigenous people, swim with a whale shark, see tons of crocodiles in the wild and do some extreme four-wheel driving. He absolutely loved it all. He said that it was the best year of his life and felt genuinely included, as a family member.”
Josh and Sarah have been foster carers for 4 years.
Over that time they’ve taken up opportunities to meet and share experiences with other carers through FCAV events, Carer KaFE training and their agency.
“These opportunities have provided real life stories and knowledge sharing in the foster community to inspire confidence in our own journey.
We have cared for Lily, (now 12yrs), for the last 4 years. When Lily first came into our care she felt abandoned, rejected, and had no focus or interests. For the first 12 months we were called to her primary school daily in relation to behavioural and social issues.
Through hard work by the care team, understanding, routine and perseverance, Lily began to feel calm and settled and discovered an interest that blossomed into a passion for AFL. Through this passion, Lily has developed motor skills, coordination, social connections, friendships and above all self-esteem and confidence.
This has had a significant impact on her sense of community and inclusion locally. It has also allowed her to bond and make a connection with her biological father through a common and shared interest. This passion has been so strong and focused that *Lily has earned herself an accelerated sporting scholarship for high school next year, providing opportunity for direct future pathways to an AFLW career.”