Shortage prompts push for flexible fostering options

Foster parents Rebecca and Jason Currell. Photo Christopher Chan / The Observer
Foster parents Rebecca and Jason Currell. Photo Christopher Chan / The Observer Christopher Chan

Jason and Rebecca share all their love with foster children

THE changing Australian family structure has prompted a shift in the way foster care agencies meet their urgent need for new carers.

Local foster care agency Foundations Care is exploring new avenues such as social media to help provide flexible caring arrangements, and to create a new face of fostering over the next 10 years.

Foundations Care spokesperson Jason Thatcher said foster care trends in central Queensland were reflected in a paper released by the Association of Children's Welfare Agency (ACWA).

It draws on expert opinions and research to explore the new face of fostering and how it will change in coming years.

"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," Mr Thatcher said.

"This might include same-sex couples, singles, empty nesters and adults from caring professions."

He said Australia's multicultural nature had meant an increased need for carers from culturally diverse backgrounds.

To fill the needs of the busy lifestyles led by juggling full-time work and social responsibilities, flexible foster caring arrangements were being offered.

"We are reaching new audiences by way of media, social media and partnering with ACWA on the Fostering campaign," he said.

Paper contributor and Sydney University associate professor Judith Cashmore said these flexible fostering arrangements could benefit both children and parents.

She said that despite these changes, some things would always stay the same.

These were the underlying characteristics of a great foster carer including having a sense of love, parenting skills, stability and strong family values.

Jason and Rebecca share all their love with foster children

FOSTER caring has allowed Jason and Rebecca Currell to share the love they longed to give to a child.

Three and a half months ago they began foster caring.

"My husband and I have plenty of love to give and don't have kids of our own," Mrs Currell said.

"We thought if we can make a difference and give these kids some love and support, why not give it a go?"

They have established a strong family oriented relationship with their foster children.

"It's very important to have a lot of love and be able to support these children like they're your own," Mrs Currell said.

Both Rebecca and Jason were brought up in a strong family unit.

"We want the foster kids to enjoy their lives too," she said.

"We give them the same sort of morals and respect that we were brought up with."

While they both work full-time, Mrs Currell said they used community programs to make it work.

Topics:  children foster care gladstone

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