Would I open my door to a child in need?
In Victoria, there are more than 10,000 children who cannot live safely at home.*
This is a frightening statistic. But the children behind it aren’t scary. Nearly a quarter of them are not even five years old.* They are just kids who want to be loved and cared for like all children.
Right now we don’t have enough foster carers to look after all these children. Foster carers are desperately needed to provide safe, nurturing homes for these children so they have a chance to heal and have a better future.
But I’m not able to be a foster carer, am I?
Common misconceptions about foster care:
1. You can't be a foster carer if you work full-time
That’s not the case.
2. I’m in a same sex relationship – that rules me out
Providing a safe and stable home and caring for a child is what makes a family, not the gender of the carers. As an organisation we openly embrace LGBTIQ foster carers. If you can provide a caring home, we want to hear from you!
3. I’m single so I’m not suitable to provide a family environment
We need families in all shapes and sizes – and you certainly don’t need to be a couple or married to be able to care for a child or young person. Single young people and older people can definitely provide care.
4. I’m only renting my place, and it’s not really set up for a family
This is rarely a problem.
You do need to be able to provide a child with their own bedroom or a bedroom to share if it’s a group of siblings, but other than that, as long as your home is safe for children, it’s suitable.
5. I don’t have time to be a foster carer
Foster care is about care, not time.
Being a foster carer doesn’t mean staying home all day every day - lots of our foster carers work full time. We really need carers to provide all kinds of care, whether it be overnight emergency, short term, long term or respite care for children. So please consider putting your hand up.
6. I haven’t had any kids of my own and foster carers need parenting experience.
You are not on your own.
Parenting experience is not required to become a foster carer. The important thing is to be prepared to learn along the way by being part of team. Foster carers receive training and support to help them through any difficulties.
Would you open your door?
The personal rewards of being a foster carer are priceless, because what value can you place on helping a child who has experienced abuse feel safe?
In the words of our foster carers:
“The best is the cuddles at the end of it. Years down the track, we still get cuddles from some of the kids we’ve fostered.”
“Loving them and feeling loved by them.”
“Hearing them say, ‘If it wasn’t for you I don’t know where I’d be.’”
“Every child we’ve fostered has added something to our lives. We’ve learnt so much.”
These kids didn’t choose the life they have, but as foster carers you can change lives. We know that it can be a daunting prospect, especially because it’s full of unknowns. But being a foster carer is one of the most meaningful and vital contributions you can make to our community.
No matter your marital status, gender or sexual orientation, Berry Street is looking for people just like you who can care for a vulnerable child or young person. There are many options with caring for a child – providing emergency accommodation, respite care for ongoing carers, or regular, ongoing care. If you are over 21 years of age and can provide a safe and nurturing home environment then we would love to hear from you.
*Child protection Australia 2016-17 Report, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare