Taking her first placement just a couple of weeks after accreditation came as a shock to millennial foster carer Zoe.
During her accreditation Zoe had indicated she would be happy to care for a child between the ages of three and seven, so when the call came and two boys eight and ten were needing a short-term home she said no at first.
“I wasn’t set up for two boys, I live in a small unit, so I wasn’t sure we could all happily live together,” Zoe said.
But with encouragement from her family, Zoe talked it through with OzChild’s Intake team.
“I thought the placement could actually be good, it could be better if there were two because they have each other. And I didn’t want to split up siblings,” Zoe said.
Being a young and single carer Zoe has found a great support network in her family, her boss and colleagues at work.
“My sisters, now they live here in Melbourne are a great asset,” Zoe said.
“They love the boys and the boys love them. I call on them whenever I need a babysitter.”
Her boss is also very supportive.
“I am lucky to have an understanding boss. I have taken him on the journey with me – I regularly shared updates with him as I went through the application process.”
“If I didn’t have a supportive work place it would be really hard for me to do this.”
Zoe has always thought that she would foster for a year then reassess to see how it is impacting on her personal life. Six months in she is loving it.
“I don’t feel I am missing out on anything. I left home when I was 15 so I have done a lot of the thing’s ‘young people’ do – held down a job, travelled overseas, moved interstate, been in relationships,” Zoe said.
“I feel I have done it all and was really at the point where I wanted a family and I have always wanted to foster.”
It hasn’t been without it challenges however, which Zoe mainly attributes to her age and life experiences.
“I think one of the challenges is that I haven’t parented before, so it was unknown territory and I think the kids might have picked up a bit on that initially,” Zoe said
“Because of my age they think of me as quite cool and someone they can relate to in some ways, but that is bittersweet.
“I am the parent figure here but that was a bit of a challenge at the start as they thought they could get away with a bit more or I would be a bit more relaxed about things. But they quickly learnt there were still rules.
“Now we are in a good space – we get along well in a cool way, but they do also have that respect for me and they appreciate me as the carer for them.”
When asked what advantages she saw for young people becoming foster carers, Zoe said the boys appreciated that she was up for doing things and getting out and about which older carers mightn’t be able to do due to more conflicting commitments.
“It is quite full on here, but that is just me as a person and the boys thrive off that. We are always out and about doing things,” Zoe said.
“I am quite social so when I have a quiet weekend the kids are asking ‘what are we doing today’. But they have actually adapted to my lifestyle and to socialising with my friends.
“I think when they first came I was worried that being single and living in small two-bedroom unit with no backyard they mightn’t like that or be happy here – I was really worried about that, but they actually love it.
“They love that I am on my own and they get all my attention and I do have the time – it is all about them so much so that they say that ‘it’s just you and me, or us’ and its really nice they actually appreciate me.
“And I thought it would be a negative effect, but it turned out to be a positive one.”
We’re celebrating our amazing young carers as part of Foster Care Week 2018. Find out more here.