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Fostering: making kids feel loved and safe

NEWS | Tess Holgate 

Thursday 27 August 2015

Wayne and Louise raised three adult daughters, but when their youngest was 17, they decided to look into fostering children. For many years they had admired the way friends of theirs loved and cared for foster children.

Since they became registered foster carers with Key Assets, they have taken four young children into their home for varying lengths of time.

“Louise saw it as a form of ministry that she wanted to get into,” says Wayne. “She was teaching full time, and not enjoying it very much, and she thought if she taught part time she’d be able to get into this ministry, and that’s where her heart really lay.”

As a teacher, Louise had taught foster children in her classes over the years.

“I’ve been to some of their team meetings because they wanted to know about their education,” says Louise. “When you receive a foster child into your classroom you have a meeting with the parents and sometimes some of the people involved with the foster child outside of the family just to let you know some of their history and how you can help them in the classroom.”

Wayne admits that, except for Louise’s teaching experience, they didn’t really know much about fostering. “We knew there was a need out there, we knew there were kids that through no fault of their own were in circumstances that were really hard for them.”

For Wayne and Louise, it comes down to need.

Wayne asks, “Can we fill the need? You have to look beyond what the first circumstances are. It is what it is; kids are being taken away from their birth parents for whatever reason. What can we do about it? How can we help?”

But they are realistic about the kind of impact it is possible to have in a crisis care situation: “We’re not going to fix this kid up; we’re not going to sort his life out in the short time they’re with us,” says Wayne.

“I like to think that while they’re here they feel safe and loved,” says Louise. “Because usually they’ve come from circumstances where they’re not safe. I’d like to think they’re safe, th0at they learn that this is how a family works, that this is how we might speak to each other, that this is how we love each other.”

“But,” says Wayne, “if you acknowledge the fact that bad influences can affect a child through their life then the opposite can be true too: good influences can affect a child. It’s hard to say to what extent. You just don’t know.”

Even though they both admit that the tough days can be really hard, they are adamant that fostering is worth the struggle.

“You have to think beyond [the hard days],” says Wayne. “This kid is like that for a reason. Imagine if you weren’t being nice to them, what would their life be? I just think every kid deserves a chance. If we’re in a position where we can do that, that’s what we want to do.

“Anyone can do foster care,” says Wayne. “You don’t have to be a certain type of person.”

Louise says, “Anyone who is able to open up their home to children, or wants to open up their home to children, is able to give them a stable place to live and look after them, love them.”

Wayne and Louise don’t have any foster children at the moment because they’re in the middle of moving house, but they say, “Key Assets have a presence in our new location and are always looking for more foster carers. We’ll get more settled, and it might work out.”

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