This week is Foster Care Week and one local agency is calling for more of the community, especially Aboriginal community members, to consider the benefits of being a carer.
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‘The time is now’ is the message from Tim Bishop, Uniting’s Manager for Carer Engagement and Support, Permanency Support Programme.
“You may not think the time is right but dont assume that it’s not the right time because now may very well be the right time for you and your family to take this on,” he said.
Mr Bishop told News of The Area there is a misconception that the need for foster carers had diminished due to COVID-19.
“In fact we are now in need of carers more than we ever have been.
“COVID has put distress on already vulnerable families and made things more difficult in putting children at risk.
“We do COVID safe training and we offer all the training as we always have,” he said.
According to Mr Bishop the role of the foster carer has changed enormously in the last ten years with a focus shift to facilitating family relationships.
In 2017 the Out of Home Care program changed to the Permanency Support program with the emphasis on permanent homes for children with carers, their families or within extended family.
“Now it is very much that carers are linked with the families of those in care and it is a privileged role to have to work with families as well as the children.”
Uniting represents 83 kids in care on the Mid-North Coast.
Uniting has is the only local agency boasting three dedicated family engagement specialists who look at linking and placing children and young persons with estranged aunties uncles grandparents cousins siblings.
Mr Bishop said one of the areas with the biggest demand geographically across the state is for Aboriginal carers.
“Uniting recognises that it is challenging for people who may have mistrust of the foster care system to become carers but we aim to overcome that through the family engagement programme,” he said.
By Sandra MOON