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Kate and Matt live in Mangalore in the Brighton municipality and have been foster carers for the past twelve years. Here is their story.

“We originally thought we could only have two children of our own,” said Kate. “We knew we had the capacity to love and care for more children than this, so we started investigating foster care. We were then blessed with two more of our own children unexpectedly. Although it seemed our house was full, we knew that foster care was still something we were both passionate about. We completed the training and the process of registering as carers, and started the journey providing respite care on weekends and in holiday periods.”

Since then, Kate and Matt have cared for twenty children, including two long-term placements. They are currently fostering one child. According to Kate the biggest challenge is time. “My husband and I work full-time so the biggest challenge is squeezing in the many appointments foster children need to attend. The rise of the Zoom call has helped this a lot. Many of the professionals
are happy to video conference with me if talking to the child is not necessary. We have also arranged for a number of the appointments to happen for our
child at school which is handy.” Kate says that the best thing about being a foster carer is “seeing your foster child improve in an area they have previously struggled. That, and the moments when it hits you that you love this child as much as your own.”

She does have some words of caution for people considering taking on foster children. “Make sure you are not going into foster care to fill a hole in your own life. Caring can be a rollercoaster of emotions and is likely to shine a spotlight on any of your personal weaknesses. Children and young people in care have been placed in this environment because they have suffered. They should not be given an additional burden of being any type of therapy for you,” Kate said. “The other piece of advice would be to read up as much as you can on trauma. Once we understood trauma-informed practice, our caring journey became much easier. It isn’t as simple as just providing boundaries and routines.”

Kate believes foster carers are critical. “So many of Tasmania’s children need support in this way. We call ourselves their ‘growing up parents’. Their own parents still love them and want to maintain a relationship with them, but for whatever reason, are not able to help them to grow up. That’s our job.” For people who do decide to become ‘growing up parents’, one key thing to remember is to practice good self-care. “We try hard to get away for a weekend or go on date nights regularly to ensure that we are OK as individuals and as a couple. If we fall down, so does everything else.”

For more information about foster care and how you can help change the life of a child in the Brighton community, please call Kylie on 0472 869 969 or visit www.lwb.org.au/foster-care