How Nina turned her life around
When Nina* was barely three years old, her mother was killed in a car accident. Nina’s father was no longer able to care for Nina and her two siblings on top of his own mental health issues and withdrawal from drug addiction. So he was forced to make the heartbreaking decision to put Nina and her siblings into foster care.
Since then, Nina has grown up with different families. She lived with one family for four years, which was as close to belonging as she had ever known. But when that family moved interstate, Nina went back to frequently changing foster families.
Every time she went to a new family, she had to start again. Each new family meant new household rules, new siblings and a new school. The only constant in Nina’s life was the knowledge that everything was always taken away from her. It was what she knew best. At the start of each new placement, Nina knew that it was only a matter of time before she would need to leave and start over again.
A build-up of pain
Nina’s sadness and loneliness hardened her. She began to withdraw. She put up defensive walls to protect herself from further heartache. After a while it all just got too hard. What was the point of trying at school when she’d just have to start again in a few months, or next year?
At 13, Nina was moved out of foster care and into residential care. For 12 months she lived in a house with three other older teens. During this time Nina became a chronic absconder – she dropped out of school and was often missing from her residential care unit.
Berry Street staff knew that Nina needed additional support to stop her self-destructive behaviour. They knew if she left school at such an early age it would significantly impact her future opportunities.
Finding her passions and building her confidence
With additional support from a Targeted Care Package (TCP), a package tailored specifically for the child, Berry Street helped Nina move back into foster care where her needs could be better met.
For Nina, the priority was to get her settled in her new home and attending school again. With help from the Targeted Care Package funding, Nina’s carers have set up her room with some of her favourite things so she can settle in. A new drum kit has provided Nina with a creative outlet to help her regulate her emotions.
As part of the package, an education support worker has provided Nina with an individual education plan that builds on her strengths to increase her confidence. She has stopped absconding and is going to school three days a week.
Nina’s foster carers could see that she loved animals and was interested in becoming a vet, so they organised for regular equine therapy. This has helped Nina to start to process the trauma of her early years.
With the help of her supportive foster carers, Nina has been able to turn her life around. She is now feeling more settled, confident and hopeful about her future.
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 different ways you can care for a child – by providing emergency accommodation, respite care for ongoing carers, or regular, ongoing care. If you’d like to know more about becoming a carer please register your interest.
*Name has been changed in the interest of privacy. The models and volunteers pictured are not connected to the case study.