A trend paper released yesterday by the Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies (ACWA) revealed how dramatic changes to the traditional Australian family have prompted foster care agencies like ours to explore new avenues to fill an urgent need for new carers over the next two years.As part of ACWA’s its recently-launched Fostering campaign, the trend paper draws on expert opinion and research to explore the new face of fostering and how it will change in the next 10 years.The report identifies that families having less children and teenagers leaving the nest later in life are among the factors that have placed traditional methods of out-of-home care under threat.
As an agency we would have to agree it rings true. We have many children in out of home care meaning we are adapting to today’s society by exploring what could be considered as non-traditional carers. This might include same-sex couples, singles, empty nesters and adults from the caring professions. The multicultural nature of Australia means there is an increased need for carers from culturally diverse backgrounds, as well as the recognised need to link Aboriginal carers with Aboriginal children.
According to paper contributor and Associate Professor Judith Cashmore, from Sydney University, more flexible fostering arrangements benefit both for foster children and foster parents.
There is increasing recognition of the need to provide support to families who are struggling to raise children, as well as the children themselves – sometimes an early intervention with a short-term foster period, rather than a long-term foster arrangement, may be the ideal response for a child. This works well with today’s busy lifestyles. More creative, flexible fostering arrangements can be a win/win for both children and potential foster carers alike,” said Ms Cashmore.
Despite the changes to Australian families and society, the underlying characteristics of a great foster carer remain unchanged. If you have a sense of love, parenting skills, stability and strong values, fostering a child in need is one of the most rewarding life experiences a family can embark on.
To find out more about becoming a foster carer please contact Foundations Care on 1300 395 005 or visit www.foundcarekids.org.au