The number of children in need of care doesn’t bear thinking about but here are the figures anyway; more than 46,000 children across Australia are in need of care and protection
Given their background working with children, teaching professionals are being encouraged to consider becoming a foster carer to tackle a mass shortage.
Key Assets CEO, Rob Ryan says anyone with a spare room who is patient, understanding and caring can apply to become a foster carer, but teaching professionals who have experience working with children are a great fit.
“Children and young people would really benefit from the experience former and present teachers have in working with children and young people,” he says.
“Teaching professionals have the skills and empathy to provide care and guidance to young people who are entering the foster care system.”
Read about some of the experiences teachers and former teachers have had whilst fostering children in need.
The single foster carer
High school teacher, Damian* was unsure how caring for 13-year-old Tim* would be as a single foster carer but says his skills as a teacher have greatly assisted in the journey.
“Not having any kids of my own, I wanted to find out what it would be like to be a parent. I felt that I had a lot of experience with teenagers which I could put to good use and I wanted to try and make a difference in the life of a young person,” says Damian.
“To be completely honest, I didn’t realise how challenging it would be even though I was informed of this. Sometimes I think I’m a bit crazy trying to juggle the busyness of life in general with the challenges of being a single foster carer.
“It’s tough at times because it could be much easier and straight forward, but Tim* will dig his heels in the sand and be very hard-headed about things, but sometimes when I step back and look at how far he has come, it makes me feel really proud.
“One of my favourite things is when I see some of the things I’m doing or saying start to rub off on him like simply apologising when I do something wrong and then seeing him do the same, as it wasn’t something he did when he first came to live with me.”
The same-sex fostering couple
Nick* and Matt*, both high school teachers, chose to become foster carers because they wanted the opportunity to support many children in their home during their lives, including seven-year-old Jared* who has been with them for over six months.
“As a same sex couple, we considered many options but decided that fostering was the best fit because it allowed us to potentially reach and support many children over time,” says Nick.
“We also saw it as an opportunity to give back to the community and enhance the quality of our own life as partners and foster fathers at the same time.”
“Before our first placement, we felt we had a bedroom that needed to be filled by a little person, but we did not expect to have that little person fill every corner of the home with conversations, smiles, Lego, stories, tears, bed time fears and morning hugs.”
“I think our training as teachers has really equipped us to handle some of the challenges of foster caring,” says Matt.
“Some of the challenges have come from having to gauge reactions and emotions as individuals and as a couple to stop tricky behaviour. There have never been so many rules, boundaries and expectations set in such a short space of time.
“As a teacher you see a lot of children who aren’t getting the care and protection they deserve. Fostering was a way where we could actually do something to help these children.”
There are a lot of misconceptions around who can apply to become a foster carer. You don’t need to own your own home, you just need to be older than 25 and have a spare bedroom. Experience working with children is highly regarded but not essential. The most important thing is the person’s ability to provide a safe, caring, and supportive environment for a child or young person.
Key Assets provides carers with all the training, 24/7 support, an allowance, and a dedicated social worker. Regular events are also held to connect carers with other carers for extra support.
If you are interested in becoming a foster carer, visit www.iwanttofoster.com.au or call Key Assets on 1800 WE CARE.
*Names have been changed.
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