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PARENTING / Feb ‘2019

Foster Caring with MacKillop Family Services

PARENTING / FEB ‘2019

Foster Caring with MacKillop Family Services

Sue and husband Lee, from Melbourne, have been foster carers with MacKillop Family Services for two and a half years. They talk about their experience and the benefits of being foster carers, and how it has enriched life for their family and the community.

Words Freelancer

Between them, Sue and Lee have five children of their own, and friends thought they were taking on too much when they said that they were going to be foster carers, but Sue says the family has benefited so much from the experience.

Sharing their home with kids in foster care has enriched life for everyone in this family.

“It’s not about what you give, it’s all about what you get back”, insists foster carer Sue McLaughlin.

Sue and husband Lee, from Melbourne, have been foster carers with MacKillop Family Services for two and a half years, providing a safe and nurturing home for babies and toddlers.

Between them, Sue and Lee have five children of their own, and friends thought they were taking on too much when they said that they were going to be foster carers, but Sue says the family has benefited so much from the experience,

“With four teenagers and one nine-year-old, foster care is a team effort with everyone pitching in and helping with the babies. Our kids have learned a great deal from opening their home to other children,

“They absolutely love having the babies to stay. It’s been such a positive experience for us and it’s taught the kids a lot about the wider world. We share age appropriate information with them about each little one that arrives, they understand that sometimes people need support and that’s why we are caring for the babies.”

"With four teenagers and one nine-year-old, foster care is a team effort with everyone pitching in and helping with the babies. Our kids have learned a great deal from opening their home to other children"

Sue and Lee sat down and discussed how foster care works with their children before starting foster care training and she believes it has been hugely educational for them,

“Our kids are an enormous help to me and the babies just love it when they come from school as their big brothers and sisters are there to play. Some days I say to them, ‘Guys, I couldn’t have done this without you today.’ They just want to keep them all forever, but we talk about how we have the babies for a short time and it’s our job to keep them safe and as happy as possible in that time.”

Over the last two years, Sue and Lee have looked after two young children since they were six weeks and eighteen months old as well as providing emergency and respite care for other babies and toddlers when needed.

Sue’s kids have also become advocates for foster care among their friends and at their schools,

“They see the babies as their brothers or sisters but are also quick to tell people that we are a foster family. They are happy to explain to some of their friends who have not had any experience of foster care what it is all about and why there is a need. I am so proud that they are growing into compassionate people who have empathy for others and understand that people can experience difficult times in their lives.”

Sue’s kids have also become advocates for foster care among their friends and at their schools.

Children need homes for all sorts of reasons, sometimes it is respite care to give parents a break, sometimes parents are ill or in hospital and unable to look after their children. There are also situations where children may have been abused or neglected because the children are in a domestic and family violence situation.

Foster carers can be single, retired, studying or working and can rent or own their own homes. There are also many types of foster care. Care can be for a weekend, a few weeks, a few months or even years. Foster carers can choose the type of care that suits them.

MacKillop Family Services provides practical support to carers to support them to support the child. Intensive and ongoing training provides carers with a specific insight into caring for children who have experienced trauma. MacKillop also operates an after-hours service so carers can call for support 24 hours a day.

Babies, children and young people need all sorts of different homes, so if foster care is something that could work for you or your family, contact MacKillop Family Services who will help you work through the steps to become an accredited foster carer.

For more information, visit https://www.mackillop.org.au/