Queensland foster carers come from all walks of life. But no matter who they are, they all have a place in their hearts for a child who needs support and understanding. Justin works full-time while caring for two boys and does short breaks care on weekends. Likewise, Michael and his partner Scott also work full-time while fostering two boys. Read their stories to discover what a day in their lives is really like.
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF QUEENSLAND FOSTER CARERS: JUSTIN’S STORY
“I’m up at 5.30am to iron and lay out uniforms, pack lunches, feed animals, and then get ready for work. Before waking the children, I take 5-10 minutes to prepare mentally for the morning routine. At 6am, I wake the eldest. Then, at 6:15am, I wake the youngest, give him his medication and get him ready for school. At 6:45 am, I drop both off to daycare and head to work.
“If we forget something, it’s usually swimming gear… I always seem to forget about swim day.
“Twice a week is Youth Active for the eldest. The youngest has not started any after-school activities yet, though he’s showing an interest in soccer so I am sure that will be his next adventure.
“He has the craziest imagination I have ever seen, while the eldest boy’s strength is his creativity.”
In the afternoon, Justin and the boys are generally all home by 5pm.
“Uniforms off, homework completed, chores completed and family phone calls at 6pm. Dinner and showers done and dusted by 7pm and free time until bedtime at 8pm.”
Justin says he sometimes resorts to Google to help with the boy’s homework.
“Everything has changed in the years since I left school. I usually end up on Google trying to figure out the way they have been shown to do things.
“Then my evening chores start before my downtime and I’m in bed by 9.30pm.”
CONNECTION TO FAMILY AND CULTURE
“We have family photos on the boys’ bedroom walls. As well as facilitating family contact for the youngest, I encourage and redirect him when required so he and his dad can get the most out of their calls. I also organise visitation with his dad when we go on holidays and encourage and support all family contact for the eldest where possible. And I encourage participation in cultural
activities and advocate for more culturally appropriate activities and participation in cultural events with Child Safety and Central Queensland Indigenous Development.
“Prior to becoming a carer, I had no commitments, no children of my own and limited knowledge of being a parent. So being a foster carer has been a whirlwind experience and a large learning curve. When the children first arrived, I felt scared and in over my head. But with the support of Child Safety, I was able to overcome this fear and power on from there.
“Although it can be difficult at times, it is so worth it to see the change you can make in these young lives.
“I chose to foster because I have the time and love to give to make a change for these kids and show them that no matter how unlovable they feel, they certainly are loved.”
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF QUEENSLAND FOSTER CARERS: MICHAEL AND SCOTT’S STORY
“Like most families, mornings start with chasing the kids out of bed and some gentle nudging to get them ready on time to leave for school/work. We have been working through the transfer of responsibilities so that the kids now make their own breakfast and help to prepare a nutritious lunch for school.
“The list of things we forget when leaving the house is endless. A musical instrument for band practice, homework, a lunchbox, a shoe…
“Our week is full of extra-curricular activities – both kids play instruments and are involved in team sports as well as us running as a family. It’s great seeing the kids achieve new milestones and
their pride in their achievements.
“We love family runs in our free time. We all work on our fitness and can comfortably do 10km together – including an hour of ‘I spy’, word games, and general chatting as we run.
“Most afternoons involve either sport, musical instruments, homework, dinner and/or family time. We avoid screens during the week so that the emphasis is on talking about our day and helping each other out with our chores. Weekends are more relaxed.
“The kids can’t get enough of Pokémon, Pokémon, and did I mention Pokémon?”
STARTING OUT AS A CARER
“When the children first arrived to stay with us, we were very scared. We really didn’t know what to expect. Although we had some experience with short term, emergency and short breaks care – it’s that fear of the unknown. We’re learning that for a lot of things you just need to go with the flow and work it out as it comes.
“We have two children in our care now, and they are both very different people. Both do share an incredibly strong resilience. They have had some negative experiences in life. However, they have always maintained a happy, positive outlook and are willing to overcome their personal obstacles with determination.
“They’ve given us so many special memories of times when we were able to make a positive impact on their lives. Watching them go from illiteracy to reading chapter books and learning to ride a bike. Completing a long-distance fun run or struggling with a musical instrument but eventually achieving the skill to perform in a family concert. Being nominated for class student representative
council. Seeing a child’s self-esteem grow through their own achievements is one of the most rewarding things to witness.
“We receive great support through our foster care agency to give the boys an opportunity to attend camps and workshops that focus on their cultural background. They have the opportunity of weekly visits with their family, and additional visits with their siblings. We also research their cultural heritage together.”
“If we had three wishes for the kids, it would be that they continue to have a sense of compassion for others, the confidence to work toward and achieve their dreams, and that they can look back at their childhood with happy memories.
“Being foster carers has impacted our lives significantly. It’s not easy, and there are sacrifices to be made. But on a positive note, it changed our perspectives on what is important in life. Suddenly so many of life’s trivial annoyances are no longer an issue.”
Michael said he and Scott provide foster care because they can.
“Because it needs to be done. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a good home and to have a great education. I was loved and encouraged. There are so many people in this world that can’t say the same. When you’ve been dealt such a lucky hand, you have an obligation to share what you can with others.
“So many kids in our community are in rough spots. For whatever reasons, many don’t have the opportunity to become the best person that they can be. If you have the means to help someone to improve their chance at success, then it would be a shame to let the opportunity go. Selfishly, the personal reward that comes from giving that gift to someone is one of the best feelings in the world.
“It’s a cliché, but the only word that sums up providing foster care is ‘rewarding’.”
We need more foster carers, like you.
To learn more about foster care visit Qld.gov.au/fostercare
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