In celebration of Foster and Kinship Carers Week, we would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to all the wonderful foster and kinship carers for opening up their hearts and homes to children and young people in care.
The Office of the Guardian’s Principal Advocate, Merike Mannik, has had the pleasure of hearing stories, first-hand, about the difference carers are making in the lives of children and young people. Today, she shares some of the good news stories she has encountered when attending Department for Child Protection’s annual reviews…
I have been moved to see the love, care and strong commitment of kinship and foster carers, which has provided the foundation for children and young people to feel safe and secure and, in turn, enabled them to flourish.
I would particularly like to acknowledge the important role of grandparent carers, many of whom have shelved their retirement plans to become the full-time carers of their grandchildren. I remember an eight-year-old girl telling us that, “I don’t have accidents anymore because Nan is comforting and doesn’t yell”.
I have been privileged to hear some lovely stories, including where Aboriginal children have taken pride in their heritage, strongly identifying with their culture, through their connection to kin and being immersed in cultural events and activities as part of their daily life. I have heard many stories of foster carers being proactive in making Return to Country trips happen for Aboriginal children and young people.
I was particularly struck by a story about a 5-year-old boy who, when he first went to live with his foster carer, ‘didn’t know how to smile, laugh or hug – he was a very sad little boy’. Ten months later, his foster carer reported that he had ‘come along in leaps and bounds’, was happy, smiling and ‘full of beans’. For me, this was such a moving example of the amazing difference that a loving and caring home can make to a child’s life.
I have heard many other stories of children experiencing a turn-around with their schooling and engaging in learning since living with their foster and kinship carers, and of the wonderful opportunities they have had by going on family holidays and enjoying camping, fishing and sightseeing.
In acknowledgement of all kinship and foster carers and the commitment and difference you make, I wish to once again say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ for all that you do.
I hope to meet many more of you at annual reviews, to hear about the children and young people in your care.
Happy Foster and Kinship Carers Week from all of us at the Office of the Guardian!