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Foster carers in short supply in Biloela

MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Kerrie and Michael Hamilton have taken care of 29 children in the past three and a half years.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Kerrie and Michael Hamilton have taken care of 29 children in the past three and a half years. Contributed

FOUNDATIONS Care is calling on Biloela and Banana Shire residents to consider taking on a role as a children's foster carer.

Foster carers look after children who cannot live at home because their family can no longer look after them or they may be at risk of harm.

"At the moment we don't have any permanent or respite carers in Biloela at all," Dianne Cooper, service manager for Central Queensland, said.

"There's always been a shortage of carers, especially in the more outlying areas, as they've got longer travel requirements," she said.

"To bring kids into Gladstone for therapy, doctors' appointments, school - it's an extra tough ask.

"But for carers that live in remote areas it can still be rewarding - we find children respond far better in environments where it's a more calming country atmosphere."

There are three different types of foster carers - permanent, respite and emergent.

Permanent carers take care of children until they are able to be returned to their family, while emergent carers take care of children after they have first been removed for a short period of time until permanent arrangements are made.

Respite carers take over from permanent carers who might need a break from time to time.

"A lot of the kids have been, to some extent, traumatised so they need a very caring and supportive placement," Dianne said.

"The carers get a lot of support from our organisation and also the Department of Child Safety.

"We also like our carers to work closely with the child's family, and for parents to provide contact with the kids if approved by the department.

"Bundaberg, Rockhampton and Gladstone do this extremely well."

Kerrie Hamilton and her husband Michael, who live in the Rockhampton area, have been foster carers for the last three and half years - and over that period of time they have taken care of 29 children.

"We started out as respite carers and emergent carers, but at the moment we've got a primary placement, a little 12-month-old," Kerrie said.

She wanted to get the message out to people considering becoming foster carers that it was an incredibly rewarding role that did not have to be a permanent decision.

"It's not (always) a commitment for 18 years - the goal for the kids is generally reunification (with their parents)," she said.

"If you go in with that goal in mind it helps, because generally the best thing for children is to be with their family.

"Sometimes it's just about the fact their parents haven't yet learnt themselves how to parent."

Kerrie said while there had been plenty of hard cases and trying times, the job was ultimately about loving and caring for someone.

"If you've got love in your heart it's not a hard thing to do," she said.

Dianne said anyone interested in becoming a carer could make contact with Foundations Care and the organisation would send someone out to talk to them in greater detail about the role.

"There's obviously a lot of checks and balances, but they get a lot of support and training," Dianne said.

"If people are interested they can hop on our website and fill out an application form."

Foundations Care was created 30 years ago, and since that time has expanded dramatically, providing disability programs, flexible living programs for aged care, children's programs and community service programs.

More information can be found at foundcarekids.org.au.

Topics:  foster carers


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