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Read why Andria and her family decided to become foster carers.

Read why Andria and her family decided to become foster carers.

Meet Andria. A Baptcare foster carer who regularly cares for Indigenous children in emergency foster care placements. Andria provides insight into why she, and her family, decided to become foster carers.

What made you decide to become a foster carer? 
I blame Facebook advertising algorithms. I was looking to foster a guide dog puppy, and searching online for some information, when I started seeing adverts about how foster carers were needed in our area. I hadn’t really thought about it before. My partner and I were both working from home at the time, had lots of flexibility, a rather indulged only child, and a spare room in our house, and figured if we can do something to help, why not give it a go.

What was involved in becoming a foster carer? How long did it take?

It usually takes about three or four months from making an enquiry to gaining accreditation, but it really depends on you as there’s a series of 1:1 training sessions and a bunch of health, police and working with children checks that all adult family members living in the home need to get done. It’s a bit different in each state/territory.

The 1:1 training sessions were especially interesting and a bit confronting as they used real-life case studies to take us through a range of scenarios for children being placed into foster care, and how to deal with various situations that can come up when caring for children in foster care. It was also great general parenting training.

The accreditation process also included our daughter, who was four at the time, so she was part of it all from the outset. Once we’d done the training, and had all the health and police checks, our application was submitted to a panel for approval.

What age are the children you have in foster care?

We chose to be accredited for short-term and emergency placements, for children up to eight years.

The age of the children and type of foster care are entirely up to you; depends what you think works best for your situation. Some people prefer longer term placements or are terrific with teenagers or are hoping to become permanent carers. Everyone is different.

Mostly we’ve had newborns, awaiting placement orders from the courts. The longest placement was five months and the shortest, 12 hours.

Isn’t it hard to say goodbye?

This is the question we are most often asked. For us, we think of it as looking after someone else’s kids, being part of an effort to get the best possible outcome for the child; hopefully, to reunify the family or find a great alternative solution. It’s not about adding a member to our family, and now that we are only doing occasional weekends, it’s more like 48 hours of fun babysitting.

The hard bit is when you see the system struggling to find a suitable permanent home for these kids, or when the solution is not ideal, or they are off to yet another temporary arrangement. We have met some incredible people working in this area, but they can only do so much. There simply needs to be many more people in the foster carer pool. That means young people, old people, single people, people in the country, people in the city, people with kids, people from different cultural backgrounds – to make it work better.

It has been great to see that eventually, almost all the babies and kids we’ve cared for are now with a family member. One little girl that we had from birth to five months is now with her grandma. We’re visiting her next weekend and have been invited to her third birthday.

Do you feel pressure to take kids when you get a call?

That’s the thing that I found most surprising about the whole process. Even though we know there is an overwhelming need for carers, at no time have we ever felt any pressure or obligation to commit more than we are capable of or comfortable with. Those working in the system are grateful for whatever you can give. It’s clear that every little bit counts. There’s a perception that only people who don’t work full-time can do this. But, there are all types of foster carers and all types of foster care. There’s emergency care, where you look after a child for a night or two, often when they are first removed from their family, and only do that every so often. There’s respite care, where you support foster carers to have a break or take care of their other commitments while you by look after a child for a few days or so. There’s short-term placements, where a child stays with you while their longer-term options are sorted out. That can be anything from a few days, weeks or even months. And, then there’s permanent care, where, when all other avenues are exhausted, you would be providing a home for a child until they are 18. It’s up to you, and it all helps.

Find out more about Andria’s family commitment to foster care at:

https://www.baptcare.org.au/services/family-youth-and-foster-care/foster-care/foster-care-stories/becoming-a-foster-carer-families-tell-their-stories