Foster Carer Story – Claire and Steve
Claire and Steve became foster carers a couple of years ago after seeing an advertisement that had been placed in their local newspaper. An agency was just starting up in Australia and was recruiting new foster carers to care for children and young people with complex needs. The agency was called Key Assets.
Thinking about fostering
“We had been talking a lot about looking into fostering and it was just by chance that we saw this particular ad; it must have been fate,” says Claire. “The following day we called the number and arranged to meet a Social Worker to have an informal chat.
“We decided that we had a lot to offer a child who, through no fault of their own, was unable to live with their birth family. As first time foster carers we knew there would be difficult times ahead but the wrap around support network offered by Key Assets gave us the confidence we needed.”
Becoming foster carers
“In Spring 2008 we became the first carers to be appointed through fostering panel – we had joined the Key Assets family. By May 2008 we had our first placement. We were so excited; our family had expanded by one. He was a 12 year old boy called Luke with a mischievous sense of humour and a smile to melt your heart.
“Our first 12 months together were a rollercoaster of emotions, to say the least. We went from elation to despair and back again quite a few times. We had many highs and many lows and, at times, we wondered why we were doing this.
“What we found difficult was that normally, when you go out to work and you have a particularly stressful day, your home is your haven where you can recharge the batteries and relax. But when you foster it’s all happening in your own home.”
Foster care with Key Assets
“Key Assets gave us the support and strength to carry on. They helped us to know that things would improve and gave us some much needed respite so we could look after ourselves as well. They listened to us and gave us advice on how to deal with specific behavioural issues, all of which were new to us.
“Since then, what a difference! Looking back we realise that it takes time for a child to begin to trust again as they have been through so much in their short lives. We had to learn to deal with rejection; when Luke didn’t even want to sit next to me at the dinner table, he picked up his chair and moved away. We were being criticised and put down at every opportunity. For new carers it is very difficult to cope with this type of behaviour coming from a child you are putting your heart and soul into helping.
“Over time we learned not to take things personally, it really wasn’t us he was angry at; we just represented the adults in his life that had let him down in the past. Now two years on, at the dinner table I often get, ‘Claire, you can sit next to me if you like’, and he often helps me preparing the meal and clearing up afterwards. We have learned that consistency and routine play a vital role in caring for Luke; only time and persistence can aid this.”
Improving outcomes for children
“Luke is now settled and happy and talks of a long term future with us. He considers himself part of the family and is treated like one; he often tells us he loves us. We are reaping the rewards of the stressful beginning we all had, to hear his laughter and joy is priceless, and to see Luke smile and be at peace is worth everything.
“We hope that our story gives you a glimpse of the difference you can make to children and their lives. There is no magic formula in foster care. It’s just plain old patience, kindness and sincerity.”
If you’re thinking of fostering in Queensland, fostering in South Australia or fostering in Western Australia with Key Assets Fostering, contact us today to discuss our specialist foster care services.