Nineteen young people were unable to be placed in foster care last month as there were no carers available.
This need remains constant for Upper Murray Family Care throughout the year, but is highlighted ahead of Foster Care Week, which begins today.
Team leader Jeanine Aughey said this year public meet and greets would be held with current carers.
“We have three households taking part and people can ask our carers how it impacts their life, and about the rewards,” she said.
“We’ve heard some amazing stories recently – one of our kids is going to the Special Olympics with the support of carers.”
Ms Aughey said in times where there were a shortfall of households, young people often had to be sent out of the region or placed into residential care.
“We want to keep kids in the community to reduce the impact of being moved,” she said.
“People often want to ask us questions, about whether they can have a pet, or be a single carer.”
People interested in knowing more should come along to the UMFC Wangaratta office (36 Mackay St) from 5pm on Wednesday, or the Wodonga office (27 Stanley St) from 5pm on Thursday.
Upper Murray Family Care have answered some commonly asked questions include:
Who are the kinds of children that go into foster care – why can’t their own families look after them?
Children are removed from their families because they are not safe. The demand for carers is so high due to the increasing pressure on vulnerable families.
Often there are issue within the family – domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse or parents with mental health issues, disabilities, financial pressures or lacking in parenting skills.
Approximately how many children in your region need care on a nightly basis, and what kind of demographic are the numbers comprised of?
UMFC provides foster care for 60 children each night in our region.
Who can be a foster carer?
Children and young people in care have different backgrounds therefore we require a diverse range of foster carers to look after them.
We have care households that consist of couples with children, couples with adult children who have left home, single carers, single parents with children in the home, single with adult children, couples without children, same sex couples and households with mothers and daughters.
We have carers who work from home, work part-time or full time, we have carers who travel for work, others who are retired, some that are studying and stay at home parents as well.
We have people who live in houses or units in town, on working farms with acreage others who live on smaller hobby farms. We have carers who own their homes or who are renting and others living on family property.
Carers need to be tolerant, patient and adaptable. They need to be able to listen to children and young people, respect them and show them genuine affection and kindness.
What happens if I have children of my own?
Many carers have children of their own. Some are grown and have left home, some have young children still at home and some families have never had children. Foster care is something that involves the whole family, but it is important that carers know that they will be supported by UMFC whatever their circumstances.
What is involved in actually becoming a carer?
Foster carers must be willing to complete training and undergo assessment interviews before they can be accredited. The training is for one weekend on Saturday and Sunday from 9.30 until 4.00 pm. The training is held in Wodonga and Wangaratta.
Can I say no to taking on a child if the timing is not right for me?
Carers are able to choose what type of placement as well as when and how often they occur.
Carers are able to go on hold if their circumstances change. We have carers who take on long term, short term or emergency placements.
There is also a need for respite carers who provide weekend care for children in long term placements to give the children and carers a break.
How long are the placements for?
Carers can specify the type of care and age range that would fit best with their lifestyle and commitments. At any time carers can change the type of care they want to provide.
Types of care:
- Short term care may be for a few weeks or many months.
- Long term care requires carers to commit to a child being part of their family, possibly for a number of years.
- Respite care can be planned for a few days or weekends, it can occur regularly for example one weekend per month.
- Emergency care is usually for one or two nights, while other care options are explored.