Christine opens her heart and home
For 10 years, Christine has been making a difference in the lives of children and young people through her role as a foster carer for Samaritans Permanency Support Program.
During her time as a foster carer, Christine has cared for over 110 children, ranging from 24-hour placements to caring for children and young people for up to 18 months.
“Foster care was a lifelong dream for me. It was a bucket list, must do thing. I remember telling my high school career advisor that I wanted to be a mum. There was a mother at my primary school who was a foster carer and she inspired me to pursue this path… it all fell into place,” Christine said.
Christine said she’d always been waiting for the ‘right time’ but realised there was no time like the present.
“I would think, ‘I’m waiting for the perfect house, the husband, the big car… I’m waiting for life to fall into place’. In reality, it doesn’t have to be like that, so I made the phone call,” she said.
Samaritans supports children, young people, their families and carers in a range of care situations.
“Samaritans Carers are supported to find the right fit for family, work and life commitments. Emergency placements, respite care, short to long term placements and kinship care are some of the placements we support, and we work with people to find what works for their family situation,” Samaritans Community Services Manager, Melissa Wiseman, said.
Initially Christine was a carer for Family and Community Services before joining Samaritans and for more than a decade, has been supporting 0-17-year old’s in her home with short-term, emergency and respite placements.
Christine has three biological children of her own, including a 16-year-old who she says has really grown through the Foster Care experience.
“Children grow and develop through the experiences and the challenges. It’s been a huge benefit in terms of our mother and son relationship because we experience different walks of life all the time and that’s a great positive influence on everyone in our family.
“Foster care isn’t without it’s challenges, but it gives you an opportunity to have such a positive influence on the life of a young person who really needs it. The small changes and input that we have in their time with us really do make a big impact.
“We’ve got an opportunity to listen and provide enjoyable family time- I’ve found what you give, you get back ten-fold. I don’t do anything special- it’s just the normal experiences I’d want my own children to have,” Christine said.
Christine explained that while you never know what the next challenge will be, the acceptance, resilience, appreciate and exposure to diversity learned through the experience is life-changing.
“Foster carers often have an important role to play in nurturing positive relationships with birth families to ensure that children and young people feel connected to family and a sense of belonging,” Melissa said.
“Restoration with birth families is one of my favourite parts of being a foster carer. We all have an important role to play in breaking down prejudice and understanding that we’re all equal. I always like to see the best in people- it’s not about you, it’s about the child,” Christine said.
Christine maintains an open-door policy and sometimes has young people returning or getting in contact to let her know how they’re going.
“I like to stay up to date – the young people often have fond memories of their time here and that makes it all the more worthwhile,” she said.
Christine recommends investing time in connecting with other carers when first coming on board as a foster carer.
“Samaritans has been a supportive agency to work with. They’ve supported me in connecting with fostering peers and I’ve made some quality friends through the community. Feeling connected with others doing the same things really helps, there’s support from other carers and a network around you to assist, to celebrate the successes and help each other through the challenges,” Christine said.
“If you have ever considered foster care, we invite you to contact our friendly team for a chat about how we can support you on the journey. You can visit our website or call our office on (02) 4014 9306,” Melissa said.