Your first foster care placement – expect the unexpected

Your first foster care placement – expect the unexpected

It’s taken a while to get here but you’ve finally arrived at the next part of your foster care journey – your first placement.Foster care - Your first placement

What can you expect? You can never really know and according to foster carer Siobhan Keaney*, it will be interesting, unexpected and transformative.

“My first placement wasn’t exactly what I intended it to be,” said Siobhan.

But it was exactly what I needed and I know I’ll never forget it.”

“My mother was a foster carer and it was something I always knew I’d do. Being a single parent of a four year old girl, I wanted her to meet people from all different walks of life and to appreciate how lucky she is.”

“Lexie was three when I first got accredited and I originally wanted to take placements that were about her age. But two weeks after I was qualified, my case manager told me about Alé, a 12 year old Italian-speaking boy who was a budding young artist.”

Although Siobhan couldn’t speak Italian and had intended to take younger placements, as a talented artist herself, her intuition told her to accept Alé into her home.

‘When my case manager told me about the joy that painting gave Alé, it reminded me of how peaceful my art makes me. So even though we couldn’t communicate well through words, we had so much fun communicating through pictures,” she said.

“I was a little nervous about us not speaking the same language but my case manager told me I could call her day or night. Alé was with us for nine months and he adored Lexie, I couldn’t have asked for a better first placement. And I decided to learn Italian, something I never would have done without him.”

“I was extremely lucky; I’ve met other foster carers who didn’t have it as easy as I did. But no matter what their first placement presented, I have yet to meet a carer who regrets their decision. I’ve since had placements that were more challenging. A foster child may not always be able to show the affection and engagement you’re seeking.”

“But my advice to future carers would be to expect the unexpected and to keep going even if things are a little tough; I’ve seen many kids express gratitude and affection in very different and subtle ways. I have a heap of beautiful paintings from Alé, and he’s still sending them, which means a lot to me and Lexie.”

Baptcare is looking for foster carers in the Western and inner Northern suburbs of Melbourne. If you can open your heart and your home to one or more children we’d love to hear from you. Contact Ana on 9373 3800 and start the conversation today.

*All names have been changed.