Hear from real life foster carers
Being a foster carer can be incredibly rewarding, but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. So why do it? We asked some of the carers from our community to tell us what inspired them to get involved and what motivates them day to day.
NEED TO KNOW
Facts and myths
Here we dispel some of the most common myths about foster care.
I can’t be a foster carer because I’m singleYou don’t need to be in a relationship to be a foster carer. We take an inclusive approach to foster care and look at every person’s unique circumstances. Many of our foster carers are single. “It doesn’t matter if you’re single. I was a single parent when I first started fostering and I continue to foster as a single parent.” Fiona, Foster Carer with Mercy Community
I work full time so I couldn’t be a foster carerYou can be a foster carer and work full-time (just ask our CEO!) However, you will need a degree of flexibility with your work in order to meet the needs of the child. The child you care for may need to see health professionals on a regular basis. Family contact as well as working closely with the care team will also be part of the child’s routine.
Every child in foster care has very challenging behavioursThis isn’t true. Children come into foster care for a variety of reasons. Not all children have endured trauma—although of course, many have. Sometimes a child may present with a behaviour that will require a range of supports for the child and the foster carers. Other behaviours are just typical of childhood development.
Foster carers need to be perfectDefinitely not true! In fact, having your own life experience is a good thing. What’s more, no carers or families are ever in this alone. You’re not expected to be perfect (whatever that is!) and this is why you will have all the support you need from our Mercy Community team.
You can’t be a foster carer if you’re rentingThis is certainly false. You need to be able to provide a stable home for a child, but that doesn’t mean you need to own your own home.
Same-sex couples can’t be foster carersYour sexuality does not affect your ability to foster. We welcome applications from people regardless of gender, sexuality, marital status, race or religion. We have foster carers with Mercy Community who are in same-sex relationships.
Foster carers get no supportFoster carers have many different avenues for support. Firstly, there’s the training provided before you even begin. Then, with Mercy Community, you’ll be allocated your own Support Worker who is there for you as you walk through your experience of being a carer. Peer groups are also incredibly important, and events are organised where carers can connect with other carers. Queensland Foster and Kinship Care (QFKC) is another wonderful source of support. “If we’ve had an issue, we can honestly go back and we can talk about it and feel supported and feel listened to … they’re really helping us through this, because we’re composing while we’re singing, you know, we’re learning.” Louis, Foster Carer with Mercy Community
We won’t need to have any contact with the birth family of the child/childrenWorking with birth families is part of supporting any child in your care, and you’ll play an important role in helping maintain these significant relationships. This is a process that is treated with great sensitivity. The care team will guide this process and support you throughout. You certainly won’t be asked to manage this on your own.
I won’t be strong enough to say goodbyeThis one is complicated. It’s never easy to say goodbye to a child you have cared for, but reunification is most often the goal. When there has been change for the parents and the child’s home life becomes safe, this is positive. Until they are in that position, most carers don’t realise the strength they have for the child, the child’s family, and for themselves. “A lot of people think they can’t do it, because they can’t let go. But you can let go, because you can see happy endings. You can see kids being placed with family members and going on to have beautiful lives. You don’t always get to see, down the track, how it happens, but when you see them have contact... and you see them reconnect, you know you’re making a difference.” Sandra, Foster Carer with Mercy Community
You need to be experienced to deal with challenging behavioursFoster parents aren't expected to be trained child specialists — that's what the professionals are for. As a carer, you’ll be trained to understand and respond to a variety of behaviours and if something new presents, you’ll have all the support from the care team to learn new strategies and support the development of the child.