The uncertainty of COVID-19 has had an unexpected up-side for the Mallee’s out-of-home care agencies, with community members showing stronger interest in finding out more about being a Foster Carer.
Mallee Accommodation and Support Program (MASP) and Mallee Family Care (MFC) have both noted increased inquiry in foster caring since the beginning of the pandemic and are hoping Foster Care Week this week (September 11-17) will prompt more community members to come forward.
“It’s probably surprised us a little, because the COVID-19 pandemic has unsettled everyone, and you might expect a tendency for people to withdraw. But our experience has almost been the opposite,” said MFC Chief Executive Officer Teresa Jayet.
“I think it has made people reflect on what’s really important, and the ways in which they can contribute to their communities,” she said.
“There’s certainly been high levels of stress in communities and families, and that only increases the challenges for people experiencing vulnerability. For children and young people, it can be particularly destabilising and the need for Foster Carers has certainly increased at the same time.
“We are also facing more complex situations in many cases, but the very positive thing has been that more people are willing to put their hands up to find out more about how they can support their own communities.”
MASP Chief Executive Officer Vincent Wilson said the trend towards “contributing” during the pandemic offered important opportunities for both agencies and community members.
“The appreciation for our incredible essential workers during the isolation and uncertainty of the pandemic was really strong and the result has been communities prepared to pull together more to help each other,” Mr Wilson said.
“That’s a direction we are working towards as agencies as well. From a community perspective, more people are reaching out to offer to help in various ways, whether it’s volunteering or Foster Caring,” he said.
“Kids deserve to be able to grow up feeling safe and our hope would be that we can build a bigger Foster Carer network in the Mallee so children and young people who need a safe place can stay here in their own familiar communities with their networks and supports around them.
“We believe that it does ‘take a village to raise a child’ and by providing love and support to a young person who desperately needs it, there are huge rewards to experience by giving back.”
Foster Caring is open to carers from all walks of life, backgrounds and ages, with caring arrangements flexible from a few days respite, to longer term placement.
Anyone interested in becoming a carer can contact MFC or MASP.