Community interest in providing safe, loving, nurturing homes for children and young people in need has increased during the coronavirus, as South Australians turn their minds to how they can help others.
A social media campaign launched by the Department for Child Protection two weeks ago, using the hashtag #FosterCareSA, is attracting more than usual enquiries to the www.fostercare.sa.gov.au site, and at foster care agencies.
Local foster care agencies have also reported additional phone and email enquiries – particularly during April and May – as many people pause to consider how they can make a difference to their community.
Minister for Child Protection Rachel Sanderson said it was promising to see more South Australians seriously considering foster care as an option and reaching out to learn more.
“I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who have thought about foster care before but never had the time to find out more and truly consider it,” said Minister Sanderson.
“The coronavirus outbreak has allowed many of us to take a step back and to think about the positive changes we can make in our lives and the impact we can have on those in our community.
“It’s wonderful to hear that South Australians are reaching out to local foster care agencies and through this campaign to see if foster care is an option that might be right for them and their family.
“If you have thought about foster care before, now is the perfect time to take the next step to find out more, with many agencies holding online information sessions.
“We know that stability and permanency is vital for good outcomes for our children and foster care gives young people an opportunity to have a family when they’re not able to live with their biological family, for whatever reason.”
ac.care, which supports carers who look after 250 children and young people across regional SA, welcomed an increase in the number of enquiries from potential foster carers over the past few months as people looked for ways to help others in their communities.
ac.care Chief Executive Shane Maddocks said new forms of communication adopted by the agency, such as webinar-style information sessions, helped maintain and build on interest.
“Like all parts of South Australia, in regional areas, we always need more people to welcome vulnerable young people into their lives and ensure they have safe homes and positive relationships,” said Mr Maddocks.
Centacare Foster Care Manager Amalie Mannik said her agency saw an increase in enquiries about foster care during the month of April.
“We have attributed this to people being at home, reflecting on what is important to them,” Ms Mannik said.
Life Without Barriers Chief Executive Claire Robbs said “over the past week weeks, we have been starting to see an increase in people enquiring about becoming carers”.
“We know how caring and generous our Australian communities are and I encourage anyone who wants to know more about what it means to be a foster carer, to reach out and have a discussion to see if you are able to make a difference for a child who needs extra support.”
DCP Chief Executive Cathy Taylor said there were areas of greatest need, including carers who are willing to care for sibling groups, children with a disability and older children and adolescents, as well as carers for regional areas such as Mount Gambier.
“Foster carers have the ability to make a positive and lasting difference to children, young people and families and I encourage anyone who has thought about becoming a carer to take that next step and find out more,” said Ms Taylor.
“Not all foster care requires a long-term commitment. You can offer as much or as little time as you can manage with respite, short term and emergency or long term care.”
Anyone interested in finding out more about foster care should visit www.fostercare.sa.gov.au or call 1300 2 FOSTER (367 837).