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FOSTERING has changed the life of local resident Frances, as well as changing the lives of those she has cared for.

Frances is a Barnardos foster carer and to mark Foster Care Week 2018, she tells the story of her fostering journey.

Filling the house

After doing the daily grind in the corporate world of Sydney, English-born Frances moved west a decade ago, making a home for herself and her children on a farm.

When the last of her children moved away to university, Frances began to consider becoming a foster carer.

“I have a large home, on a 300-acre farm, with a lot of space and the capacity to care for children,” she said. “They can run around, climb trees, get dirty and help me look after the animals. I run 70 head of cattle and breed calves.”

Choosing care

Frances started as a temporary carer last November and has had two children stay with her since. “I chose to be a temporary carer, because I’m not looking to start a new family,” 

Frances said. “But, I offer a really good environment for children before they go back to their birth family or on to a new permanent family.

“And, I guess I’m a bit different because I didn’t want to care for babies, I wanted to care for school-aged children and am able to look after two or more siblings. Apparently there’s a shortage of carers willing to do that, but it’s not a problem for me.

“As a temporary carer, we maintain contact between the child and birth parents, often while they are working towards having their child come back to live with them.”

A good example

Running the farm on her own, Frances hopes to be a good role model, especially for boys for whom she cares.

“[The farm is] great for boys,” she said. “I actually want to teach boys that women can do anything. My hope is that I can help them grow into caring males.”

Challenges and rewards

“Fostering is definitely very challenging. I have even found it frustrating and eye-opening at times, but in the end it is also very rewarding,” she said. “Even in the short time I’ve been a carer I’ve seen real changes. The changes you see in children make it all worthwhile.

“You definitely need to be resilient and non-judgemental, you have to learn to trust your instincts and go with the flow. If I feel out of my depth, I put my hand up and my Barnardos caseworker is there to support me.

“In the end, children just need love, cuddles, fun,good food, safety and structure. A lot of it comes naturally.” 

Barnardos Australia urgently need foster carers: single, married or same sex. You’ll receive 24-hour support, training and a generous allowance. One weekend, a month, a year or a whole childhood, your time can change a child’s life. Call 1800663441 or go to www.barnardos.org.au.

(This article first appeared in the Cowra Guardian).

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