While some people kicked off 2021 with a new outlook or resolution, Grace started hers in a bit of a different way. She started her journey as a fully accredited foster carer.
One of only seven foster carers accredited in January state-wide, Grace has been able to start her year making a big difference in supporting young people who needed a safe and loving home.
Grace, a 25-year-old full-time worker in the disability field, does weekend respite and emergency respite for young people, usually aged between 9 and 11.
Emergency care provides accommodation for children and young people in an emergency and can often be required at a moment’s notice, at any time of the day.
Respite care provides support for a child or young person’s parents, guardians or regular foster carers by enabling them to have a break, and it helps builds the circle of caring people around a child.
Grace decided to become a carer after seeing an advertisement on BCYF’s Facebook last year.
“I thought it was something I could do; I work in the disability sector so I have experience in the field, I had the time, with no children of my own and where my life is at, I felt I had that time to fully invest,” she said.
Since being accredited as a foster carer in January, Grace has had several placements.
“It’s been really amazing,” she said.
“There was one child who pushed the boundaries a bit, testing my response, but as a result of working together and showing compassion and care, she now comes to me regularly for respite care, it’s really good to have that relationship and rapport now. She’s comfortable in an adult’s care – potentially something she hasn’t felt in some time.”
Grace likes to take the children in her care to do activities that focus on community and social interaction.
“We’ve gone to many places including Timezone and the movies. These are things not all children have been able to do,” she said.
She explained how she’s enjoyed her placements of young people aged between 9 and 11.
“You’re meeting them at a time in their life when they’re really starting to understand relationships and make their path into teenage-hood and then adulthood. You can really make a difference to that child’s life in that point in time, supporting the foundations for adulthood.”
Grace explained how she might be interested in having her own children in the future and how this experience has given her a foundation for parenting.
“It helps you understand the qualities that can help you become a good parent, and how important a secure and stable home environment is,” she said.
“I love being an adult that a child can come to and know that I have their best interests at heart – a lot of children haven’t had those positive relationships before. Just being that person for them is great, showing a child some love and compassion and helping them learn and develop throughout their childhood.”
Of the seven accredited foster care households in Victoria in January two of those were accredited through BCYF.
These numbers also show the critical shortage of foster carers, not only in the Geelong and Colac regions, but state-wide.
“The more carers accredited in the Geelong region, the more children and young people who need care in the Geelong region can stay within their area, which provides less disruption to their lives,” Manager Out of Home Care Jo Dumesny said.
“Grace, who is young, single and works full-time is a fantastic example of how anyone can be a foster carer.
“If you’re considering foster care, get in touch with BCYF, and we can answer any questions you may have. Being a foster carer may not be the easiest thing you could ever do, but it will be one of the most rewarding,” Ms Dumesny added.
“While it can seem like a leap of faith at first, there is a lot of support to help you develop the skills you need, and it’s such a rewarding experience, both for you and that child, or children,” Grace said.
“You are going to get so much out of the experience. It’s fantastic for both your development and the child’s development as a person.”
For more information on BCYF’s foster care program, visit www.bcyf.org.au/foster-care. People in our community can also support children and young people in foster care by making a donation online: https://www.bcyf.org.au/make-a-donation/