Since becoming a Berry Street foster carer in September 2018, Angela has cared for around 14 children and young people, ranging from 2 years old through to teenagers.
Angela works full-time leading a not-for-profit organisation and lives in Melbourne’s northern suburbs. As a single foster carer, providing emergency and respite care suits Angela’s busy work schedule: children stay with her on a short-term basis, from anywhere between 1 night to 1 month.
Angela decided she wanted to become a foster carer when she finished university and started working for the Minister for Families in Queensland. Through her role, she learnt a lot about child abuse and neglect, and how the foster care system works.
“I knew that I wanted to contribute… I just had to be in the right place in my life. One where I could juggle my job while having children in my care, and be living in an apartment with enough space”.
“Now that I am a carer, I can say that it’s been incredibly rewarding and a privilege to be involved in these children’s lives”.
“There’s a whole range of joy that comes from caring for kids of different ages and backgrounds. With younger children, there’s delight in watching them play and learn. When they’re older, you connect with them in a different way, through supporting them emotionally, finding out how they’re feeling and what’s happening in their lives”, Angela explains.
Providing a safe environment
As well as making sure that children’s needs are being met – in terms of rest, food, entertainment and play – Angela says that the simple part of fostering is giving children a safe environment.
“Whether we’re watching TV, playing, colouring in, going to the movies or to the park... It’s all about providing them with a safe space and allowing them to be a part of the world.
“I hope that they leave my care knowing that they were absolutely safe and that they enjoyed themselves.”
The physical restrictions that have come with COVID-19 have certainly created some challenges though.
“It’s been hard fostering during COVID because normally you find outlets for kids in your care, whether that’s going outside, doing activities or engaging with other people. But lately there’s been no chance of that living in Metropolitan Melbourne. I’ve had to create a balance between going outside and getting exercise, and the other activities happening within the house.”
Support is always available
Fostering is not always easy, but the support is there when you need it. Angela says her Berry Street case managers have always been responsive and helpful.
As a Berry Street foster carer, you also receive 24-hour support and practical help from experienced staff.
“I’ve called the 24-hour hotline a couple of times when certain incidents have happened or when children have been sick after-hours,” Angela says. “It’s comforting knowing that support is there if you need it.”
She also enjoys attending Berry Street’s social activities to hear about the experiences of other carers, including LGBTIQ+ carer meet ups.
Always a need for more foster carers
At the end of 2019, Angela reflected on her life and asked herself “What is the one thing that makes me truly happy?”. The first thing that came to her mind was fostering.
While she currently has 1 spare bedroom (which allows for 1 child or up to 2 siblings at one time), Angela is looking to get a bigger house in the future so she can care for more children at the same time.
Angela would like to encourage people with an interest in foster care to go ahead and do it.
“Do some research, follow up and get the training. Please do… There’s always such a big need for foster carers.”