Real life carers' stories
Karen has been an AFSS foster carer since 2012. She’s taken on the care of a two year old child long term, and has had a least 15 children coming into her home for respite during this time.
Karen believes all children should have a loving and stable home environment, in which their trauma, grief and loss can be supported. Karen comes from a youth profession which has developed her skills to manage the behaviours that some children may exhibit.
Karen has a strong commitment to ensuring all children who enter her care maintain their cultural connections with country and family ties, by assisting with travel to remote areas to ensure family contact with both immediate and extended family. Karen feels this is an important role that she plays due to her own children’s family connections.
“The reality is that in some cases I get a phone call an hour before a child enters my home. Some of these children can have very challenging behaviours, you need to take it day by day and be committed to the child,” says Karen.
“Sometimes you get very little information; you’ll need to have observation skills to assist the child in settling into the home. I’m lucky my children are easy going and used to changes in the home because of the own cultural heritage. AFSS has supported me from the commencement of my registration. They’re just a phone call away and gather any information that I require, which allows me to have more of a focus on the child.
“When a child enters my care and then leaves happy, it’s like a feeling of satisfaction, that I have made a difference either big or small. This is why I continue to provide care for Aboriginal children in care.”
Christine and Ian's story
Christine and Ian first joined up as foster carers in Adelaide in 1979.
While they lived in Adelaide they had a few children come and stay for a short time and they decided this was something they would love to do on a regular basis, but in 1982 they moved to Woomera and were unable to foster due to living too far away.
"After a few years in Woomera we saw that ACCA (Aboriginal Child Care Agency - now known as AFSS) in Port Augusta was desperately looking for carers, so we approached them and told them we were interested. This was about 1989, and since that time we've had dozens (I couldn't put a figure on it) of Aboriginal children stay with us, from emergency to short term placements," says Christine.
"In 1993 we were asked to have a family of four children on an emergency placement, which we readily accepted. The youngest was five months and the oldest was seven. That request turned into a long term placement for these children and we even took on another child born to the same family making it five.
"When we left Port Augusta to come to Port Lincoln there was no ACCA organisation here so we had to leave them and transfer to Families SA in Port Lincoln. ACCA had been a wonderful and supporting agency so it was a bit sad to leave them. The main reason for us leaving Port Augusta was to be with family in Port Lincoln. Ian's mother's family were born at the Poonindie Mission and his brother lives here so it was sort of a natural progression. Ian also wanted to get into the fishing industry to follow his love of fishing."
And today? The five month old baby is now 21 and getting married in January next year. He’s joined the army and is now based in Brisbane. Three of the other children have children of their own and still live in Port Lincoln.
“We can’t imagine not doing fostering, it just seems so natural, and I couldn’t think of not having children living with us,” says Christine.
“We often meet some of the children we've fostered and it’s great to see how much they’ve grown and changed over the years. We prefer long term fostering as these children become part of your family and life. We have three long term children living with us now and we can’t imagine doing anything else. It can be a very hard and frustrating journey, but it’s so worth it. We hope to have many years ahead of us with our foster children.”
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