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For Alecia and Daniel, their journey as foster carers began with a simple idea to take some kids to the zoo.

“A work friend gave me a pamphlet for a respite care information session,” says Alecia.

“Daniel and I went along, and we decided to start the carer training process.”

Training to be a foster carer

Converting two well-meaning people into effective foster-carers is an intense process.

Over 10 weeks, Alecia and Daniel spent long hours in information sessions and assessment interviews, completing specialised foster carer training, and necessary checks and clearances.

This was followed by five home visits where case workers assessed the environment Alecia and Daniel would provide for a child in need. Home assessments included discussion on the motivation to become a foster carer, building skills to provide quality care, and a willingness to support a child’s connection to family and culture.

The first weekend

Alecia and Daniel’s first placement was weekend respite care for two boys aged 8 and 10.

“We didn’t have children at that stage, so our house was pretty basic in terms of entertaining kids,” laughs Alecia.

“We had a great weekend though — we asked them what they wanted to do, and they wanted to go to the park, build treehouses and have BBQs. So that’s what we did.”

 

From respite to emergency care

Alecia and Daniel were invited to become short term emergency carers. They agreed, and their first assignment was caring for an 8-year-old girl for a month.

“We had to act quickly to figure out what a girl of that age would need — you have to be able to provide emotional support for children on the spot,” Alecia says.

“She didn't want to be alone and she was frightened at night, but she was intelligent and lovely. A beautiful bond began to form between us. After the month was over, she moved in with her grandmother."

 

When their own child was born

In the same year they became foster carers, Alecia and Daniel were pregnant with their first child. Taking on a foster child is an emotional journey, so carers are encouraged to take breaks as needed.

Alecia and Daniel thought they might take a break when they had their own child — but then they received a call about a six-year-old boy who needed a home for three months.

“He was riding his bike in the front yard when I first met him,” recalls Alecia.

“I just felt we’d be a good match,” recalls Alecia.

 

A surprise in store

When they made up the nursery for the new baby, they decorated a new room for their foster child to welcome him into their home.

“When he saw the room he cried with joy,” Alecia remembers.

“He has bonded with us and is especially close to our son — there is a seven-year age gap, but because they both arrived in our home at the same time, they just clicked.”

 

The rewards and challenges of foster care

Alecia says the foster care journey is challenging but rewarding.

“There are small rewards like teaching your child to swim, to run and read, and big rewards like giving children opportunities they might not have otherwise had,” she explains.

“You need to have the commitment to get through the hard times. You need to be reasonable and have a balanced approach with your partner, so you can help each other when times get tough.”

"Remember that these kids are just looking for love, guidance and a warm, safe home."

Alecia’s advice on becoming a foster carer

If you’re thinking about taking a foster care journey yourself, Alecia has some advice:

  •  Don’t be frightened off by someone else’s horror stories. If you want to be a foster carer, go with the process and trust your instincts.
  • Your foster child’s case worker is a great sounding board. They’re an excellent source of knowledge and support for you and your child.
  • Remember that these kids are just looking for love, guidance and a warm, safe home.

We’re always looking for foster carers to create safe, welcoming environments for children in need. If you’d like to know more about becoming a foster carer, email fostering@benevolent.org.au or call 1800 236 726.