Imagine the heartbreak
Imagine you’re a social worker, who helps to place children with foster carers. You chose to work in the child welfare sector because you’re passionate about keeping children safe. A call comes in from Child Services… the police were called to a house in a small town nearby after a report from a neighbour. They found four young children under the age of eight, alone and terrified.
The house is squalid, with rubbish covering the floor. The children look like they haven’t been bathed or fed in a long time, and appear visibly malnourished. It’s not safe for the children to stay with their parents. These poor little kids are traumatised and need a safe place to stay immediately.
The clock starts ticking, because you need to find a foster carer for them to stay with, and you need someone for tonight.
Children this vulnerable really need to stay together with their siblings – it’s the closest relationship of their lives, and staying together makes it much less scary when they are staying in a stranger’s house. Unfortunately it’s hard enough finding a carer for one child, much less four.
Imagine the heartbreak when you realise you have no carers left to call on. You’ve got four little kids coming to your office and neither you nor the scared little children have any idea where they are going to stay tonight. It’s no wonder that so many social and child welfare workers become foster carers themselves.
Sadly, this is the current reality in Berry Street offices around Victoria.
Children in crisis
Foster care is facing a crisis in Victoria and across Australia. There are more children and young people who need foster care than ever before.
Last year alone there were nearly 10,000 Victorian children who could not live at home.
Unfortunately, as demand goes up, every year there are fewer and fewer trained foster carers to call upon when children need a safe home.
Would you open your door?
The rewards of becoming a foster carer aren’t really financial, although there is financial reimbursement for the costs incurred in looking after a child. But the personal rewards of being a foster carer are priceless, because what value can you place on helping a child feel safe when they need it the most?
Foster caring is one of the most meaningful and vital contributions you can make to our community.
We know that becoming a foster carer can be a daunting prospect, especially because it’s full of unknowns. There are many options to caring for a child – providing emergency accommodation, respite care for ongoing carers, or regular, ongoing care.
*Name has been changed in the interest of privacy. The models and volunteers pictured are not connected to the case study.