Ocean Grove locals Katrina and Nick are happy to add their voices to a campaign encouraging people to consider foster care.
Katrina Lumb always wanted to take on foster care because in her work as a special needs teacher, she sees many young people who need that kind of support, who need a chance to be their best.
Her husband Nick, who runs his own electrician business, was happy to take it on too. They started foster caring five years ago and have had Tim* living with them ever since.
Both Katina and Nick have full-on jobs, but they make it work, just like other working parents, thanks to good routines.
“We established clear expectations at the beginning, so we’re all on the same page. We used some of the same tools at home as I use with my students. Tim has a check sheet for his daily jobs and earns rewardsfor doing them. This has worked well and has helped him to understand the routines and structures of our family,” Katrina explained.
Katrina says foster caring is the hardest and most rewarding role you can take on, and has some wise words for people considering fostering.
“I would say don’t do it unless you understand this is not about you; it’s entirely about the child. You need to be prepared to adapt to and for them. If you think you can do this, you will be changing a child’s life for the better,” she said.
“Whether you can give a day, a month, a year or long term – your impact will be massive. You will be providing a good positive relationship which will have a positive impact down the track.”
Carer recruitment manager Jasmine Perry says MacKillop’s ‘Bring out their best’ campaign is necessary because Australia has a critical shortage of foster carers.
“Each year, the number of children and young people needing foster care grows. And it grows more quickly than we can find people to care for them,” she says.
“Children of all ages – from babies to 17-year-olds – can enter care for a variety of reasons. They may come into care on their own or with their siblings. Many have experienced difficulties such as parent illness or death of family members; they may have been abused or neglected because their parents are experiencing drug abuse, are in jail, have a mental illness or have an intellectual disability; they may be experiencing domestic, and family violence; or they may be homeless.”
MacKillop works with over 850 foster carers throughout Australia. Every foster carer, just like Katrina and Nick has their own story, their own reasons for opening their heart and home to children in care and come from a variety of backgrounds.
“There is a perception that you need to be home full-time to be a foster carer. That’s not true,” Jasmine says.
“Foster carers may have children of their own or not; work full-time, study, or be retired. They may be single or have a partner and can come from any culture or religion.”
If you would like to find out more about becoming a foster carer, call MacKillop’s Foster Care Enquiry Hotline 1300 791 677 or get further information online at www.mackillop.org.au.
* Name changed for privacy reasons.