Foster and Kinship Carer Week, running from March 4 until March 10, is an opportunity to celebrate the dedication and commitment of Queensland's foster and kinship carers, such as long-term Brisbane-based carers, Jeanne and Jim Sharp.
For Jeanne Sharp, who undertook training and became a carer six years ago, the rewards of being a foster carer are obvious.
“It could be something as simple as watching a child smile, to being a part of their journey to success and independence,” Jeanne said.
“A highlight for me was working with an intellectually impaired individual who overcame his struggles to attain independence, gain employment, and achieve happiness,” she said.
The UnitingCare Community Foster and Kinship Care Program runs information sessions on foster care for interested individuals, and offers support and training to carers to ensure children receive the safe, nurturing environment they need.
“Foster and Kinship Carer week highlights the important work of carers in supporting children and young people, and helping them shape a better future for themselves,” said Hayley Lingard, Manager of UnitingCare Community’s Foster & Kinship Care program.
“Foster and kinship carers enrich the lives of children and young people and form an important support network on which they can rely,” Hayley said.
“Foster care remains Queensland’s primary response to supporting the needs of our most vulnerable children and without well supported, quality foster carers, our state’s abused and neglected children have nowhere to go.
“UnitingCare Community’s Foster and Kinship Care program aims to support the needs of families willing to commit to the valuable, rewarding, though also challenging role of fostering.
“To assist foster carers in their new role, a support worker is allocated to each household to provide on-going support, advocacy and guidance,” Hayley said.
For Jeanne, foster caring is a role that provides both practical and emotional support.
“Foster caring is about providing the appropriate information, skills, and emotional support for a child to gain independence and stability,” said Jeanne.
“Prospective carers need to be reliable, understanding, and willing to listen,” she said.
The UnitingCare Community’s Foster and Kinship Care program is funded by the Department of Communities Child Safety Services.
“During Foster and Kinship Carer week, UnitingCare Community is co-hosting dinner events in Brisbane and Moreton Bay to show our appreciation to the fostering community,” Hayley said.
For more information on Foster and Kinship Carer week please visit http://www.communities.qld.gov.au/childsafety/about-us/news-and-events/events/foster-and-kinship-carer-week-2012
For more information on UnitingCare Community’s Foster and Kinship Care program, please call 3624 2460.