Foster Care Week is celebrated in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia from 11-17 September. We are both humbled and amazed by the enormous contribution of our village of carers who open their homes, their hearts and their lives giving back to the community so selflessly.
OzChild carer Emily shares her story
Emily has worked in Early Childhood Education for several years and crossed paths with many children who were in foster care, it was these experiences that lead her to being a foster carer herself.
“It was just something I really wanted to do, then I had two housemates move out, which meant I had two spare rooms. I had the time and the space, so the decision was easy for me.”
Emily has been a foster carer with OzChild for five years, today she is caring for four kids, including Khyl who just turned 18.
“Khyl’s younger brother was in my care, so I’ve known him for a couple of years, then about a year ago he came to live with me.” says Emily.
Khyl has been in out-of-home care since he was one month old, first being cared for by a family member then moving into foster care.
He has lived in a few different foster care households and spent some time in residential care with other children and young people.
“Khyl has a tough shell, he swears, and he is a bit rough, but he has the most beautiful, biggest heart, and he is smart, not many people see that side of him.”
“He used to drop around to see his brother, and at times when he needed some time out he would come over for a chat, I helped him through a lot of things, I think he felt comfortable opening up to me, I never judged him, just listened and offered advice,”
– says Emily
Khyl has been living with Emily for the past year, they have had their ups and downs, and there have been fights.
“At times Khyl would threaten to leave, but I think because we have such an open and honest relationship and have built good communication he has stayed.
“Khyl has such a big personality, he is kind and sweet, and he has flourished playing the role of big brother to all the kids, he is very protective,” says Emily.
And Khyl is focused, when he puts his mind to something he goes for it, like getting his license and a new car.
“The day after he turned 18 he got his License, and he had been saving hard for his first car, which he recently purchased. I am so proud of him, he loves that car and loves fixing it up, he is always working on it, doing something, and if he doesn’t know how to fix something he goes about figuring it out, he is very resourceful that way.”
Emily understands the importance of extended family, and she has developed strong bonds with members of each of the kids’ birth families, if not the mums or dads it is aunts, uncles, grandparents, and she also welcomes each of their siblings into her home whenever they want.
“It’s important for the all the kids, and even if they are not biologically related to the family members they feel like they are part of the family, we are just one big family, that’s what Khyl really loves about being here.”
When asked about the best parts of being a carer, Emily responds “without a doubt it’s being connected to a family, seeing the kids do new things, I love giving them experiences they haven’t had before, but spending time together just hanging out at home, I really cherish too.”
“Celebrating the kids, the big and small milestones, their achievements, and their differences, it’s something I make an effort to do every single day.”
Child maltreatment is a pervasive issue that casts a long, dark shadow over the lives of countless young Australians. It’s a problem that transcends social, economic, and cultural boundaries, leaving a lasting impact on victims and society as a whole.
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