Robyn – Catholic Care foster carer
Fostering a child is no easy task to commit to, but once you do it and you see the benefits for a child – it is one of the most rewarding things you can do, a veteran foster carer says.
Robyn, who now works with Catholic Care, has been fostering children for more than two decades.
It is a role she started while living in Western Australia after seeing the need for carers when her sister was providing care for kids.
“I started foster care well over 20 years ago,” Robyn said. “In NSW I’ve been doing it now for about six years.
“I did it in Western Australia, Tasmania and I knew I’d be coming back home [to NSW] eventually, so that’s why I do what they call short-term care.”
Robyn, 69, mainly looks after babies and does so until they are reunited with a parent or relative, or until they go into permanent long-term care. She usually has a child in her care for a period of anywhere between a few weeks and up to 18 months.
Robyn said when she initially started foster care she was working in childcare, which helped with the logistics of the commitment.
“I knew taking a child into care I would have that child 24/7,” she said.
“The child would come to work with me, and then come home with, so I had the best of both worlds.”
Robyn, a mother of three of her own kids who only started foster care once they had grown up and left the family home, said there are challenges that come with the commitment.
“The challenges are children come into care for a reason.” she said.
“It could be domestic violence, it could be drug or alcohol issues. So those children they’ve seen things and heard things that a child in a ‘normal’ situation don’t see.
“I’ve got the love to give, and the patience and the commitment, so I do it.”
While the commitment is not for everyone, Robyn said she would encourage anyone thinking about giving foster care a go to seriously look into it.
The rewards far outweigh any challenges.
“If you see a little one who has come into your care traumatised, and then all of a sudden they’ll look at you out of the corner of their eyes and give you a little smile… and you go ‘yes! they trust me’. And with babies you then see them flourish. You take them to the clinic and you see their putting on weight, you see them smile, you see them roll over.”
Robyn said some of the children she has looked after have kept in contact years after being in her care. She said she has looked after about 30 kids across the years but only ever has one at a time.