Foster carer weekend reinforces family-based approach

Becoming a foster carer is a big step, but CatholicCare believes it’s not one you should have to take alone. Recently it invited carers involved in its Out Of Home Care program to take part in the inaugural Foster Carer Focus Group Discussions, held in the picturesque Hunter Valley. The discussions were run by an independent facilitator, enabling carers to provide honest and anonymous feedback on their experiences.

“Carers not only provide young people with safety and stability, but they empower them to reach their full potential. For this to happen, carers themselves must feel supported and able to provide constructive criticism as and when it is needed,” Director of CatholicCare, Helga Smit, said.

CatholicCare offers a range of foster care options for children and young people who cannot live with their own parents or extended family. Child-centred case plans are developed in conjunction with clinical psychologists and support staff; however, these plans are constructed in consultation with carers.

“CatholicCare is devoted to working with carers because we acknowledge the best outcomes for the child occur when plans are implemented in partnership with quality carers,” said Ms Smit.

“Because we operate a range of services, such as specialised support groups, information on topics like contact anxiety and mental health, and assistance with processes such as adoption and guardianship, we rely on feedback from carers to ensure these are being delivered at a consistently high standard,” Ms Smit said.

“The Foster Carer Focus Group Discussions have enabled CatholicCare to identify avenues for improvement and we look forward to acting on the feedback we’ve received.”

Set in the tranquil vineyard region, the weekend allowed many families a rare chance for a night’s getaway, and was given “top marks” by participants.

“We all had such a wonderful time together,” said foster carer Peter Di Girolamo.

According to Mr Di Girolamo, the discussion in the focus groups was productive and gave carers a platform to express themselves freely.

“We went over time…and carers still had more they wanted to say,” he said.

Mr Di Girolamo said the weekend was thoroughly enjoyed by members of his family, and he particularly appreciated the chance to speak personally with members of CatholicCare’s management team.

 “At CatholicCare, our focus is on the child, but we care about our carers and recognise the need to support the household to support the child,” said Ms Smit.

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Maddie Bradford Image
Maddie Bradford

Maddie assists with CatholicCare Communications.

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