BCYF Manager Family & Community Services Toni Gauntlett has been recognised with a state award.
Toni and Paul Gauntlett were named winners of the 2022 Carer Award at the Victorian Protecting Children Awards on September 7.
This award recognises assessed and approved kinship, foster and permanent carers, both past and present, who have made a significant contribution to the lives of children and young people in care.
Toni and Paul are foster carers of two teenagers who presented with very significant mental health concerns. Their advocacy and dedication to these teenagers has helped them to thrive far beyond the proposed outcomes expected by professional assessments.
They have shown exceptional effort and care in every way, providing a safe and nurturing environment and building lasting, meaningful relationships.
Toni and Paul’s consistent encouragement has supported the teenagers to be confident in their educational skills, resilience to challenges and increased their motivation to succeed. Both teenagers have reached a point of ongoing stabilisation. As a result of their time with Toni and Paul, the teenagers attend school full time and have stable and manageable mental health. They have also achieved goals such as joining the school student representative council, making friends, joining local and state sports teams, winning competitions and one was made a class captain.
Toni and Paul’s willingness to make changes has ensured the needs of the teenagers are met and they are now both healthy and capable.
BCYF foster carer Shokoofeh Azar was a finalist in the awards.
Shokoofeh was recognised as they are a nurturing carer and tireless advocate for the children in their care. Shokoofeh is caring for two siblings through the refugee minor program and actively supporting a relationship with their third sibling.
They help the siblings access professional supports, ensures their culture and religious beliefs are understood and respected, and provides access to cultural and language support.
The children’s teachers report they are thriving at school, both in terms of learning and social connections, and have excellent attendance. The Victorian Protecting Children Awards recognise practitioners, workers, carers and community members from across all areas of the Victorian child and family services system.