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June 22, 2024 10:12 PM

Sharon Shares Rewards and Challenges of Foster Care

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BY DI SNEDDON

Last week was Foster Carers Week and a time to reflect on the amazing contribution foster carers in our community are making to the lives of young people.

One of those amazing people is Sharon Power, a carer for 16 years who has taken responsibility for the lives of around 30 children for respite and another six children long term.

Sharon’s youngest child was eight years of age when her sister-in-law shared her encouragement with Sharon to take on the role, sharing her own experiences and the difference she could potentially make in the lives of young children in need of time in a safe and loving home.

Sharon cannot imagine her life without having these children in her life.  There have been challenging times but the rewards far outweigh those moments and the life lessons she has experienced along the way might entice others to take on this essential role.

Sharon initially began her care with Life Without Barriers that originally sort care for children with special needs.  Over this time Life Without Barriers has broadened its clientele to include all children needing care.

One of the magic moments are the children who progress from experiences of trauma to dancing and singing in her home.  Children who achieve in the classroom and make friends.  Most importantly, children who can experience a visit with their parents and come home happy.  Equally important, parents who, for a range of circumstances, are unable to care full time for their own children to see these little people happy.

For those considering taking on this role, and there is a huge demand, expect quite a few visits from organisations responsible for the welfare of these children.  Organisations like the Department of Community and Justice (formerly Department of Community Services).

“You have to understand that these children are no longer in their parents home, so it is paramount that their new ‘home’ is a safe place for these kids to be living,” Sharon said.

“These people need to make sure the kids are safe so be prepared for the visits, it a huge responsibility for DCJ and carers need to understand this” Sharon said.

Having three beautiful daughters herself, Sharon said many have questioned her decision to bring foster children into her family dynamic and to be honest, these children often come with trauma.

“My girls live a good life but I think their exposure to other children who have not been so fortunate has opened their eyes, they are more aware of how lucky they are, and have shown nothing but care and kindness to the children who have come into our home, they have nurtured them and have been beautiful role models, the little children just adore them,” Sharon said.

“If you can make a difference in the world what better way than to help young children,” she said.

The support carers are offered has also provided an unexpected learning experience for Sharon.

She has completed many courses such as therapeutic play. The courses are varied and there is also plenty of advice and support from each child’s case manager. Each child is different, their experiences are different and each case receives and deserves the attention needed through Life Without Barriers.

The upsetting situation is that there are now far too many children in the Hunter region living in motel rooms because there are not enough foster carers.  There is an urgent need for families to consider caring for sibling groups that foster care organisations take all measures to keep together.

Sharon currently has three children, two brothers and a sister, who call her home ‘home’.  Initially they slept together in the same room, comforting one another in their new living arrangements.  Now, two years down the track, they all have their own room and Sharon loves nothing more than hearing them singing and dancing, her own daughters laughing with them and these little people receiving a monthly visit from their parents.

“The visit from the parents is so important, it reminds the children who they are but it also gives the parents knowledge that their children are happy,” Sharon said.

If you are interested in becoming a foster carer, contact ca****@lw*.au or call us on 1300 592 227. You can also find out more at: lwb.org.au/foster-care 

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