Children in foster care are often placed within ‘kinship’ placements, where the child is placed with family.
The Grandparents As Carers support group (GAPS) was set up to offer support and friendship to some of these carers.
With the mass over crowding of the child protection system, it is so easy for their carers to slip through the cracks, and miss support that they need.
The GAPS group meets on Mondays during school terms at 10:30am at the Anglican church on Sturgeon Street, Raymond Terrace.
They have been running for nine years.
Group member Gavin Breen told News Of The Area, “We are here to help, because a number of people out there who are involved in grandparent care are not aware of what is out there.”
“We can help with Direction and support as you deal with the system and all that can involve.”
“The place for these kids is with caring family.”
“We love them, we care, and if the kinship placement is an appropriate safe place for a child, it can be the best thing,” he said.
The group has found wonderful comfort with each other, through difficult times, restorations and more.
The members spoke freely with News Of The Area about their concerns for the system, and that they needs to be a better process for these children.
The group would like all new carers to be given a pamphlet about the GAPS group when they very first gain custody of their grandchildren.
Many grandparent carers don’t even know the group exists.
Families who had grandchildren for years weren’t aware it existed, and reflect that they made huge improvements just on their knowledge base coming to the group.
Local member, Kate Washington, is a strong advocate for the group, and is looking to help the group this year with bringing about change and awareness,
Claire Bell told News Of The Area, “We are a very welcoming group, we are there to support all kinship carers who are raising their grandchildren.”
The group will be running a stall at the Marketplace on Wednesday 2 November, out the front of Westpac.
Please feel free to drop down and chat with them, or just turn up to one of their weekly meetings and join in.
For further information, please contact Claire Bell on 0427498318 or for the Anna bay group, Leonie Lund on 0415353798.
By Rachael VAUGHAN