Foster carer provides renewed hope

WHEN 13-year-old Sally* first entered foster care, she was a very troubled and confused girl. Like many teenagers her age, she acted out and showed signs of anti-social behaviour. After the deaths of her parents, Sally battled depression and had thoughts of self-harm. Sally then entered the Bridges Foster Care program in 2011 when a carer stepped in to offer the young girl stability and somewhere to live. At first, Sally refused to attend school but during these challenging times Bridges Foster Care staff provided her carer with ongoing support.

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Over time Sally has settled within the foster care home and has been able to build a very positive relationship with her carer. Bridges Foster Care Program Coordinator Tania Napoli said Sally, now 18, is completing her VCE Year 12.

“Sally has come leaps and bounds in her development and is a very competent student,” Tania said.

“She has developed into a mature, strong young woman who is committed to making positive life choices.”

Although Sally is now at the age where children in foster care prepare to live independently, her carer has agreed to keep her in a supportive environment while she undertakes her most important year of her schooling. “Despite the challenges Sally faces, the safe and nurturing environment her carer has provided assists Sally’s positive development and growth,” Tania said.

Although the outcome is a fantastic for Sally, it poses a challenge for the Bridges Foster Care program. It means they lose the opportunity to place another child with this foster carer. It’s just one example why more foster carers are needed to provide safe and nurturing homes for some of Victoria’s most vulnerable children and young people. There is a chronic shortage of foster carers throughout Victoria.. Every week staff are forced to decline placements due to the lack of care givers.

Now with Foster Care month officially underway, Bridges Foster Care encourages different types of families and households to apply to become caregivers. Carers can be single, married, de facto, divorced, grandparents, with or without children, have adult children, work full or part time, be unemployed or on a pension, retired or studying. The primary requirement is that caregivers are safe, caring people who are able to provide a supportive and stable environment for young people in need.

The Bridges Foster Care program covers the City of Wyndham, Hobsons Bay and parts of the City of Maribyrnong.  If you or anyone you know would like to find out further information about becoming a foster carer contact UnitingCare Werribee Support and Housing on 9742 6452.

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