Foster Care Week: Make a difference in the lives of abused and neglected children

John Guthrie and Dennis Cash with their fostered and adopted children.
John Guthrie and Dennis Cash with their fostered and adopted children.

Why do we foster kids?

For the fame? The glamour? The money?

Well when you consider it is a 24 hour a day job – the hourly rate is pretty pitiful! But of course we don’t do it for any of these reasons.

We want to make a difference in the lives of abused and neglected children to give them the chance of a better future.

We love that it expands our family.

Even after they grow up and leave our home – if they get wind of any celebration or a Sunday roast…they are like homing pigeons!

But seriously, we are the lucky ones – we get to have these great kids in our lives.

I can’ tell you how often I’ve heard people say to me… “oh those children must be so grateful”, or “they are so lucky to have you…”

Grateful? Lucky?

They were taken from everything they knew and had to give up parents, siblings, pets, extended family, neighbourhood, toys, everything that was normal to them.

No one asked them whether they wanted to come into care. We also do it because it needs doing.

You probably know the shocking stats: 48,000 kids in out of home care in Australia, 186 substantiated reports of child abuse and neglect every day.

Add to that, approximately one in four children in foster care will show signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.

As foster carers we understand that children who have been abused or neglected may exhibit fear, sadness, difficulties with schoolwork, bed wetting, nightmares, self-harming behaviours and other expressions of distress and trauma.

These behaviours may have helped protect them from neglect or abuse in the past and are often very strongly rooted.

It takes time, patience, and often additional support to address and overcome them.

My partner, Dennis, and I take the long view.

The trauma didn’t happen overnight and the healing isn’t going to either.

We are in it for the long haul and we celebrate every small victory along the way.

Being a foster carer is like what Tom Hanks’ character in the movie A League of Their Own says about baseball: “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”

To find out more about fostering call 1800 663 441 or go to barnardos.org.au.

  •  Foster Care Week runs September 9-15

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