27th Foster Care Week runs from September 10-16

Now in its 27th year Foster Care Week, which runs from September 10 to 16, is a time to acknowledge and celebrate the wonderful contribution that foster carers in NSW make to keeping the state’s most vulnerable children and young people safe in loving and stable homes. 

This year, the Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies (ACWA) is also using Foster Care Week to encourage people wishing to help children in out-of-home care achieve permanency in their lives, to consider the question, ‘Which type of carer could you be?'

Fostering is a jumping off point to achieving different forms of permanency for children who have had upheaval in their lives: fostering in order to support change in a family so kids can get safely back home; fostering to adopt a child; fostering with the intention of becoming a life-long guardian for a child. It’s all about finding the right path for the child and their carer.

Child protection is everyone’s business, and with almost 20,000 children in NSW unable to live at home, there is an urgent need for many more foster carers who are able to support restoration of children to their birth families, offer immediate or respite care, or move towards guardianship or open adoption of children in their care. 

ACWA CEO Andrew McCallum says that while public awareness of the need for people to provide loving and stable homes for the state’s most vulnerable children and young people has grown hugely in recent years, understanding of the range of caring options is still limited.

“The renewed focus on permanency means that the type of commitment needed from foster carers is changing,” Mr McCallum said.

“We need to attract people with a strong desire to support children to return home to their birth families, as well as those who wish to take the more permanent step towards open adoption or guardianship.

“For Aboriginal children, this might mean putting your hand up to keep them safe and cared for in their own community, helping to identify family members that can look after them until they’re able to return home, or providing respite care to families in need of a break.”

There is also a huge need for carers with the ability to offer emergency care to children when they are first removed from their homes.

“Providing immediate care to children at risk of harm is a vital service to the community,” Mr McCallum said.

“This requires people not only to be flexible and responsive, but to have attributes such as patience, empathy and resilience.

“We know there are many people across NSW who care deeply about the social injustices that can leave families struggling to care for their children. That’s why this Foster Care Week we’re asking those people, ‘Which type of carer could you be?’”

Everyday people from all walks of life can provide care, from single people, young or old, married and same sex couples and caring professionals, to empty nesters and people from different cultures and religious backgrounds.

Like the amazing foster and kinship carers being honoured around the state this week, you could help a child find their ‘family for life’ and give them a sense of belonging, stability and security that could change the course of their whole future. 

People interested in finding out more about the range of ways to provide care to a vulnerable child can visit the Fostering NSW website: www.fosteringnsw.com.au or call 1800 236 783.

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