The Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies (ACWA) will be marching in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade for the first time this weekend in a bid to encourage members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersexed (LGBTQI) community to consider the rewards of fostering and potentially adopting children in need of safe homes and loving families.
Marching under the banner of Fostering NSW, ACWA, the child welfare peak body for NSW, will be joined by other NSW out-of-home care agency workers eager to help dispel the myth that LGBTQI people are not eligible to foster and adopt, and to also celebrate the meaningful difference that those who have already chosen this pathway are making in the lives of vulnerable children and young people unable to live safely at home.
Latest statistics (June 2015) reveal that of almost 18,000 children and young people in out-of-home care in NSW, more than 7,600 of them are living in statutory foster care. It is estimated that 450 new foster carers are needed over the next year.
With the number of same-sex couples on the rise in Australia, the LGBTQI community has become a rich and increasingly important source of foster carers for recruitment agencies.
According to ACWA CEO Andrew McCallum however, this source remains largely untapped due to a widely-held yet mistaken belief that LGBTQI people are ineligible to apply.
“Loving and caring for children is what matters first and foremost,” Mr McCallum said.
“Not only are LGBTQI people eligible to become carers and adoptive parents, but they are encouraged to do so.
“It doesn’t matter your age, gender, or culture – if you have room in your home and in your heart, you can give a vulnerable child or young person the stable and loving home they need.”
Same-sex couple Catherine and Temeka have been foster carers with Hunter/New England based agency Wandiyali OOHC Children’s Services for just over 12 months. They are full-time carers to siblings, a 6-year-old boy and his 8-year old sister, and in the past have also provided respite care. They highly recommend couples to take on “this rewarding experience”.
“Being same sex foster carers is more than just looking after vulnerable kids, it’s challenging and rewarding but also helps the kids feel safe and belong to a family,” the couple said.
“It makes you stronger as a couple when facing the challenges together as a team.”
Lisa and Janett are foster carers who became aware of the high need for foster carers and made contact with Stretch-a-Family, an agency in their local area. They say Stretch-a-Family welcomed them as potential foster carers and provided them with training and support. The couple has been a respected member of the agency’s care team for the past six years, providing safe, fun and caring respite care for young people aged from three to 17.
“Foster care is both rewarding and challenging,” the couple said.
“We encourage other same sex couples to find out how they can make a difference to a young person’s life.”
To find out more about becoming a foster carer or adopting from out-of-home care visit www.fosteringnsw.com.au or call 1800 236 783.
The Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies is the New South Wales peak body representing non-government organisations which provide services to vulnerable children, young people and their families.
Fostering NSW is a partnership between the NSW government and non-government foster care agencies and is managed by the Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies.
To arrange an interview with ACWA CEO Andrew McCallum please contact:
M: 0418 659 525
To arrange an interview with a same-sex foster carer couple please contact:
M: 0413 363 232