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Urgent need for Auckland foster carers

With national Foster Care Awareness Week kicking off on Children’s Day on Sunday, Barnardos New Zealand is calling for more Aucklanders to consider fostering a child.

Barnardos offers foster care services in Auckland and currently has around 50 children placed through their network of families and caregivers. But every week they’re turning down requests for new placements because they simply don’t have enough foster carers on their books.

That’s something Barnardos Foster Care Manager Nancy Jelavich is hoping will change.

“With this being Foster Care Awareness Week, we’d really like Auckland families to consider opening up their hearts and their homes to a children who, for various reasons, can’t currently live at home,” says Nancy.

Barnardos works with a wide range of children in need of foster care: boys and girls, from young babies right up to 17-year-olds. The duration of care also varies, with short-term respite and long-term placements required.

Nancy says that many people might be surprised that fostering is an option for them.

“There’s really no such thing as a ‘typical foster carer,’” says Nancy. “Our carers come from a walks of life and are all very different people. The one thing they have in common is a real love for children and a desire for them to feel safe, secure and happy.”

All foster carers go through a screening process before children are placed in their homes. Like every family, Nancy says all the children in need of care are obviously very different, but families can be surprised how well a new child fits into their home.

“Foster care is a journey that’s a different experience for everyone,” says Nancy. “Each child has their own story and individual needs, so it’s important that carers recognise where the child has come from and their background – they may also respond better to parenting approaches that are a bit different to what parents may be used to. In saying that, these kids can also very quickly become part of their lives. Just like all children they need things like boundaries, care, attention and safety – things that families are likely to be providing already for their own children.”

Ongoing support for foster carers is also comprehensive, with regular contact from social workers, access to a 24-hour helpline and financial assistance.

“The most important message really is – just get in touch. If you’ve ever thought that you might be able to welcome a child into your home, and into your heart, then give us a call to find out more,” says Nancy. “That call could be the start of something really amazing – for both you and a child in need.”

For more information on foster care at Barnardos, please call the Barnardos foster care team on (09) 625 0550 or email aucklandfostercare@barnardos.org.nz