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Michelle* was interstate when she got our call – we urgently needed a foster carer for a group of siblings in Melbourne.

A foster carer with Berry Street for just over one year, Michelle had shared with us that she was passionate about keeping sibling groups together. As a biological mother to two children, she’d witnessed first-hand how powerful the sibling bond is.

So, Michelle ended her holiday a day early in order to return home to welcome the three children – aged 9, 5 and 3 years old – into her home.

As many of the children and young people that come into our care have experienced trauma, it’s especially important that we try keep siblings together in foster care.

Sarah Bartlett Berry Street’s Senior Manager – Home Based Care & Complex Case Management

Berry Street provides tailored support to carers

Berry Street foster carers receive all the tailored support they need, including a dedicated caseworker, 24-hour support and practical help, training and programs, opportunities to connect with other carers and more.

We helped Michelle set up her home and assisted with school and kinder drop-offs/pick-ups.

As caring for a sibling group comes with added complexities, we were there every step of the way to ensure Michelle had the support she needed, both practical and emotional.

“There are not many foster carers who are able to care for siblings – not only did Michelle welcome the children into her home, but she hit the ground running at a moment's notice,” said Sarah.

Working towards reunification with parents

Although not always the case, foster care is meant to be temporary – where it is in the child’s best interest and safe to do so, the aim is always to reunite a child with their birth family.

With support from Sarah and her team, Child Protection is currently exploring kinship (relative) care for the sibling group. As the children are Aboriginal, it’s especially important that their connections with their families and communities be supported. If a relative can't provide care, they will continue to be cared for by a foster carer skilled in providing long-term care.

We urgently need more foster carers

Michelle is just one of Berry Street's amazing foster carers we’d like to acknowledge and celebrate during National Volunteer Week. By caring for children and young people who cannot live safely at home, foster carers are changing our local communities for the better. Thank you!

As a foster carer, you change lives by making a child who has experienced trauma, and possibly even abuse, feel safe. It won’t always be easy, but being a foster carer is one of the most meaningful and vital contributions you can make to your community.

If you're over 21 and can offer a child their own room in a safe and nurturing home environment, you can apply to be a foster carer.