The Foster Care Association of Victoria (FCAV) has recognised BCYF case worker Sarah Martin for her outstanding work supporting foster carers.
Sarah was named joint winner of the inaugural Commitment to Supporting Carers Award – alongside Beth Matthews of Anglicare Victoria. The winners were selected from a field of 70 case workers, nominated by foster carers, announced at the FCAV Carer Celebration and AGM.
The nominating foster carer said Sarah always ensured that the best interests of the children in our care were upheld and that nothing was ever too much despite the complex needs of the children and health challenges of one of the carers.
“She checked in at least weekly but at times would communicate many times a week. We knew we could always call or email her, and were never made to feel that it was an impost. It always felt like we were all working in unison for the best outcomes for the children,” BCYF’s nominating foster carer said.
“As new carers, we feel privileged to have been shown the way, by such a professional, organised, caring and always happy case manager, that we feel, always goes above and beyond. Her commitment to the children in her care, the relationships she builds with the children and the carers, allows for things to work in unison for the good of all,” BCYF’s nominating foster carer added.
FCAV implemented the awards to recognise ‘what great support looks like’ and as an important way of forging improved support across-the-board for foster carers.
In congratulating Sarah, BCYF CEO Sandy Morrison said the award was a testament to the dedication, commitment and care that Sarah and BCYF’s Out of Home Care team provide to our foster carers every day.
“The team has continued to provide vital services to the community, placing the needs of the most vulnerable at the centre of everything they do, throughout the most challenging of times. The support for children, families and each other, particularly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been unwavering,” Mr Morrison said.
Sarah joined BCYF’s Out of Home Care service in 2019, having previously completed a placement in the organisation’s Family & Community Services area as part of her Community Services Diploma at the Gordon.
Sarah said she was surprised and honoured to receive the award.
“You don’t do the job to receive recognition but when you get it, it does make the tough days worth it. It was so nice to hear that what I am doing is making a difference for the carers.”
“What I love about the role is working with carers but also working with young people. As a younger person I can provide a different perspective and help the carers implement strategies. I’ve always tried to build a rapport with carers and their young people, to talk through what it’s like for them and to build strong relationships to keep the placement going as long as possible.”
Sarah said COVID-19 restrictions had created additional challenges for everyone.
“I reflect on how I’m feeling through this and imagine what it’s like for these young people who are traumatised, away from school and friends, and in some cases not being able to engage in therapy.”
“And their carers are doing this huge job and having to deal with other things like home schooling and therapy. I’ve tried to put in place lots of extra things, that to me, seemed like small things. I’m glad that was well received and makes me realise that the small things matter,” Sarah added.
Sarah paid tribute to her supportive and caring team at BCYF.
“We all have different strengths and everyone is so willing to help. I’ve never felt alone, and if I’ve ever hit a roadblock I can go a team member or my team leader. I’ve never felt uncomfortable to ask a question and I think that’s shaped a lot of my case work from the start.”
BCYF urgently needs more foster carers across the Barwon region. To find out if foster care is for you, contact BCYF on 5226 8900 or visit www.bcyf.org.au/foster-care/