The rewards of being foster carers

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Cathy and Steve have been foster carers for 15 years and currently care for four foster children.

Cathy and Steve have been foster carers for 15 years and currently care for four foster children. They say life is very busy but they wouldn’t have it any other way. The rewards of being a carer are many and varied and they both agree that their greatest joy is being able to play a part in the achievements of the children in their care.

In 2006 Cathy and Steve began looking for a way to give back to their community. They felt very strongly that they would be able to give a child a great home where they would feel included, safe, cared for, and loved, so they decided to apply to become foster carers. Since then the couple, from South West Sydney, have looked after many children in emergency, respite and long term care.

Over the years Cathy and Steve found a passion for caring for children with disabilities and were told that one of their children would never walk. But three years on, with the support and encouragement of a loving family, this little girl is walking with the assistance of a walking frame. This same child recently attended her first swimming lesson and in less than ten minutes she was swimming. “It just blew me out of the water!” says Steve proudly.

Cathy and Steve both agree that there is a story behind every child; that each comes with a very different set of experiences. Commonly, when a child first comes into care they feel sad and neglected, often not knowing when their next meal is coming. But Cathy says that simply providing a choice of foods for breakfast each day can be very exciting and make such a difference to a child.

 ‘HAVING A GOOD CASE MANAGER IS SO IMPORTANT TO WHAT WE DO’

As foster carers, Cathy and Steve are not on their own. Initial and ongoing training and support is provided by their agency, Family Spirit and their Family Spirit case manager, who visits them in their home each month. “If we have any concerns we have our case worker’s (her) mobile number,” says Cathy. “Having a good case manager is so important to what we do.”

Family Spirit is a partnership between two Catholic organisations, Marist180 and CatholicCare Sydney who believe that by working together, they can produce better outcomes for vulnerable children, young people and families. “While the children are definitely our priority, we are also focused on supporting our carers in every way possible,” says Executive Manager, Tracie Fleming. The Family Spirit carer support program includes access to a 24 hour emergency help line, regular training opportunities and a scholarship that covers fees at systemic Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Sydney.

While Cathy and Steve admit that being foster carers is hard work, they also say it is an amazing and rewarding experience. Cathy sums it up beautifully by saying that “it opens up your eyes to a brand new world and makes you appreciate what you have in life. It is great to be able to give a child that does not have anything a great home.”

If you would like to find out more about becoming a foster carer or would like to register to come to our next information session call us on 13 18 19.

You can hear more from Cathy and Steve below: (* names changed to protect privacy.)