There is a desperate need for Gold Coasters to become foster carers, with more children set to enter the system in the wake of COVID-19.
Currently there are more than 10,000 children and young people in Queensland who, for a variety of reasons are unable to live at home due to safety concerns.
General Manager for Children, Youth and Families at Churches of Christ in Queensland, Leanne Rutherford said this number is expected to rise, with many families facing increasing pressure.
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“While there are many reasons why children and young people come into alternative care, most have suffered abuse, neglect and trauma, and if not identified and supported early can be lasting negative impacts on children now and well into the future,” Ms Rutherford said.
“As carers are already in critically short supply, there is a growing need for individuals who can commit to serve as foster caregivers to children and young people.
“We are welcoming as many foster carers as possible to meet the growing need of supporting children who are unable to live at home.
“We need all kinds of carers from many different backgrounds and cultures, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. As well as carers who are able to provide emergency, short-term and long term care and are able to support all children to stay connected to their families and communities while they are living away from home.”
Paula has been a dedicated foster carer with Churches of Christ in Queensland for four years, providing long-term care and emergency care for young people in need of a safe harbour.
Currently she has five children living with her long-term and is one of few carers who opens her home to teenagers.
“When you can take somebody who’s wounded and trusts nobody and they’re only 13 and they know they can’t rely on adults, that child is scared to death but they trust you to handle something, it’s everything, it’s a game changer,” she said.
“The warm meal, the clean clothes and finally feeling safe to sleep at night, those are some of the most healing things that those children can have access to.”
Despite the heartache of saying goodbye when they return home, Paula said the reward is truly worth it.
“We can open our hearts, we can step up and we can look after these children. Because you know that saying we’ve all heard it. If not now, then when. If not me then who,” she said.
If you are interested in becoming a foster carer or just would like to start the conversation and find out more, visit ittakesacommunity.com.au today.
Churches of Christ in Queensland Children, Youth and Families service is one of the largest providers of alternative care for children in the statutory care system in Queensland.