IT’S the little things that mean the most to foster carers Roy and Lyn – first steps, a loose tooth, muddled words, learning the lyrics to a goodnight song.
No matter how tiny their foster child’s milestone, they celebrate it.
“It can be as simple as using a knife and fork,’’ Lyn says.
“The fact you can help a child achieve something; if it’s not their full potential, that they learn to do something.’’
The couple joined Centacare’s Specialist Family Preservation Foster Care program more than three years ago.
When an Aboriginal baby was placed in their care, they turned to her birth mother for cultural understanding.
This open communication stopped “confusion and misinterpretation’’ along the way, Lyn says, and enabled the girl to maintain connection to her cultural roots.
It also meant her family could share in their daughter’s achievements on their journey towards reunification.
“These children, regardless of what’s happened to them in the past, still want that contact; they still want to see family and Centacare offers that in a very safe environment,’’ Lyn says.
SFPFC program Manager Rachel Kemish is urging South Australians from a mix of family types to get involved in fostering.
The program offers well supported short-term placements for children aged 0 to 12 years while they are unable to live at home. Currently, there are 22 children, of which five are Aboriginal, placed in the program.
Rachel says more households are needed to provide temporary care for children where there is a plan for them to be reunified with their family. The assessment process takes up to five months to complete.
Foster carers receive Aboriginal cultural competency and therapeutic training and development, an enhanced allowance and intensive support.
“Every child, regardless of their cultural background, needs a safe and loving home,’’ Rachel says.
“Foster carers come in all shapes and sizes. We would love to hear from Aboriginal families too, because we are committed to connecting children with their communities and nurturing their sense of belonging and cultural identity.
“Together we work as a team to support children to make the transition home.’’
The rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care is ten times that of other children.
“At Centacare, you can ring up and the help is there; that’s the big advantage,’’ Lyn says.
“You’re not going in not knowing what challenges there may be along the way.’’