With three adult children of their own, Bree and Justin felt like they had more to give as parents. For them, raising their own biological children was just the start, and by becoming foster carers they were committed to helping as many children as they could.
“Our kids had grown, and we could see the need out there,” says Bree. “We really felt we had so much to offer, so we decided to help children in need.”
Now, nine years later, they have helped so many children through emergency and short-term care, and now through long-term care.
The different types of foster care
When Bree and Justin first became foster carers, they looked after kids requiring emergency and short-term care. In this type of care, children and young people stayed with Bree and Justin for anywhere from 24 hours to six months or more.
While most people think of foster care as a full-time, long-term commitment, there are different types of care available, depending on the carer’s preferences.
Bree and Justin felt that they were providing a safe harbour for so many children and young people in their time of need, and continued providing emergency and short-term care for many years.
“We were short-term carers for a very long time and we had a lot of kids come through our doors,” says Bree
“And we just hoped that no matter how long they were with us, we gave them a little bit of happiness and safety.”
But when Bree and Justin found there was such a need for long-term carers for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people, they stepped up and made the commitment.
“My eldest daughter is Aboriginal, and we know how important the connection to culture is for Aboriginal children and young people,” says Bree, “and we could provide this.”
With two children now in long-term care, Bree and Justin love the stability and permanency they have provided the children in their care, and they can see the tangible difference they make in the children’s lives.
Support and training
While being a foster carer is not an easy vocation, Bree believes the training and support provided by Narang Bir-rong really helps deal with the challenges. From financial support and 24/7 caseworker support, to ongoing training, the journey is not one that you undertake alone.
“Narang Bir-rong has been a really great support,” says Bree. “Their caseworkers are always available, no matter the time of night or day.
Sometimes it is just a call to give an update about the kids, but other times it’s just a chat for emotional support for us as carers.”
There are also a number of different types of training available, which you can target towards your situation, interests and the particular needs or behaviours of the child in your care.
“The training is really great,” says Bree. “You can do as much training as you want.
All these kids come from trauma or they wouldn’t be in care, and they each have their individual needs,” she says. “They might have behavioural issues, or it might be a learning disorder or health issue.
I’ve completed a number of training sessions now, and I gear all my training around my children and their situations, which is really helpful.”
Becoming a foster carer was a completely life-changing experience for Bree and Justin, and it is still something that is changing them today.
“Being carers has completely changed our outlook on life and has changed me as a parent,” says Bree.
“It really is the hardest thing we have ever done, but the rewards are so worthwhile.”
Our Foster Care Stories
Sharing the stories of our foster carers allows us to tell you about the real impact our community has. The patience, compassion and perseverance of our carers are truly inspiring, and show how we can bring tangible and positive change to the lives of children and young people in our care.