Whether you have been a foster carer for months or years, the positive impact you can have on a child's life remains a constant reward, as experienced by two people who are part of Cafs (Child & Family Services Ballarat) foster care program.
Rebekah Mangos had her first overnight visitor just six months ago, after deciding there was no reason for her not to offer her spare bed to a young person in need. She has since had children stay for a weekend, a week, and one young woman who lived with her for six weeks and returns regularly for respite. "Cafs has great supports in place for carers," she says. "They have linked me in with outside of school care programs and workers to assist with pick ups from school, provided a listening ear when I had questions in the middle of the night, and they even came and sat with me when I had a child in hospital one night."
According to Rebekah, being a foster carer brings something new everyday - new routines, new games, new personalities and challenges. "These are unknown children with varying stories coming into your home and there is always an adjustment period in getting to know new people," she says. "As a single carer there have definitely been some learning curves, but the pleasure of getting to know and sharing your home with a young person far outweighs the harder times."
Francis Morgan has been a foster carer with Cafs since 2014. He was previously a mentor for a couple of years and regularly provides respite (or weekend) care.
"You're opening your house to give a child, something that maybe your children have got and they haven't," he says. "You're extending that love and care. I'm a great believer that they need love, care and nurturing (and) put that at the top of the list."
Francis has cared for one boy regularly since he was eight years old in a respite capacity and says what makes the foster care experience so special is seeing the kids grow. "It's a shame you can't do that with hundreds of kids (but) if you've helped one, I think you've done something good."
Francis says working with the Cafs foster care team has been excellent and he's had never experienced any dramas. This year he has cared for dozens of children and over the years has looked after kids from a variety of places, such as Horsham, Geelong and Portland. "It's a long way for those poor little ones to come, unsettled, and then to go in to a strangers house," he says. "I don't see it's my job to be the parent, I'm just the weekend person (who) gives them a bit of fun - I feel that's my role."
This advertising feature is sponsored by Cafs.