COVID-19 updates for the AnglicareSA community | Read more

Respite care is crucial for foster children and their carers – providing a supportive environment for one and a much-needed break for the other – however few people are aware of that need.

Respite Foster Carers provide children regular or occasional time with another trusted adult within their support network giving primary foster carers a meaningful break from their caring role.

They become another member of a child’s extended network. The length of care can vary from a day or a weekend, to a short break over school holidays, and can be provided in a long-term foster carer’s home or as an outing.

“Foster caring can come at a cost,” said Donna, one of AnglicareSA long-term foster carers. “I’ve given up work and all those adult conversations you get with the freedom of working. This is why respite is so important.

“Respite is a form of self-care and is as important as the care given to our young ones.

“Not only does it give us time to give one-on-one time to each child in our family, but also the opportunity to regroup and refresh so the level of care doesn’t waiver.

“These can be seen as sacrifices to our lifestyle and relationships, but we have the greatest support from our AnglicareSA care team and the Department for Child Protection, they’re always there making sure our support systems are nurtured.”

AnglicareSA Manager Northern Foster Care, Marsha Lynch said some people may not be in a position to provide care in their own home but want to help a child or young person by being a part of their village. 

“This (becoming a respite carer) can be a way for people who are interested in fostering but may not have the space to provide care in their home to become involved in fostering and be a part of a team that supports children in care” Marsha said.

AnglicareSA is one of South Australia’s leading foster care providers, but more respite carers are needed. If you are interested in find out more about becoming a carer, please visit anglicaresa.com.au/foster-care/

Immersing First Nations children in care along with their carers in a cultural experience was the focus of a camp in the Northern Flinders Ranges at the end of April.

Facilitated by AnglicareSA’s Foster Care Services and the team at Iga Warta, the camp on the land of the Adnyamathanha People – People of the Rocks – is part of a strong commitment to First Nations children to ensure that no child leaves AnglicareSA care without culture.

A total of 12 families, including 28 children, spent three nights camping under the guidance of Uncle Terry Coulthard and Aunty Glenise Coulthard learning about kinship structure, laws, and Creation stories, while also visiting sacred sites and to gain an understanding of the importance of sharing experiences on Country.

Foster carer Sam said it was a privilege to be welcomed onto Adnyamathanha land.

“We were welcomed with open arms,” she said. “They put us up in accommodation, fed us, taught us about the land, language, and traditions. We sang songs and they took us on tours of their land including through rocky creek beds to see artwork in caves from more than 34,000 years ago.

“We walked paths of families who were forced to move on (not that long ago) and heard heartbreaking stories about the lives of those families.

“We listened to stories with our feet in the sand of creek beds and heard many stories of love, happiness, and heartbreak. It’s hard to explain the emotion we felt at times.”

For carers Sarah and Paul, the camp was an eye-opening opportunity to come together as a community and develop a greater understanding of culture.

“What an amazing group of committed people helping to go beyond our ‘academic’ understanding,” they said. “We have so many incredible memories and a deeper understanding and connection to the Adnyamathanha people and their culture. 

“We believe this will support us in connecting with our children’s cultural group in a much more meaningful way.”

The camp also served as a connection for carers, helping to create a community of people with similar lived experiences that they can reach out to in the future.

Likewise, the children in care also connected with others they had never met.

Carer Jayne said: “The kids talked about their new friends all the way home. We have already caught up with a young person who has become a friend, and we are planning a camping trip with him and his family very soon.”

AnglicareSA Principal Aboriginal Practitioner Samantha Gollan said the camp reiterated to her that we were on the right track for First Nations children in care.

“There was a sense of belonging and a deep connection to culture and to each other,” she said.

“The impact for foster carers was huge, for them to see and feel that culturally, we are raised by our community and are stronger for our culture was something special.

“Many conversations were had about our history, about intergenerational trauma, and things that you can’t read in books.  For me, I came home feeling culturally re-energised.”

AnglicareSA would like to thank the CMV Group Foundation for supporting this year’s camp with funding. The CMV Group has been a longstanding partner of AnglicareSA, and we are grateful for their willingness to extend their support to new initiatives such as this camp.

Donna and Lloyd were busy parents working full-time but they knew they wanted to give back to children in care.

Through her work as a police officer, Donna was exposed the reality of life for some children. This, and a desire to grow their family, inspired Donna and Lloyd to welcome their first foster child into their family with daughter Grace.

Now, more than 10 years later, the couple have been long-term foster carers to two children.

“I couldn’t bear the thought that these children could be living somewhere without love, it’s hard to imagine,” Donna said.

Donna and Lloyd still have regular contact with their first foster child – who is now 19 years old – who moved out of the family home to live independently.

Their second – an eight-year-old – has lived with Donna, Lloyd, their adopted greyhound and three chickens for just over a year.

While their foster care journey hasn’t been without challenges, Donna and Lloyd said the positive times far outweighed the challenges.

They encouraged anyone considering foster care to take the plunge.

“I think people hear more of the good than the bad and there is definitely a stigma around foster care and foster children,” Lloyd said.

“But I think if you want to do it, how much time you have doesn’t matter. They’re part of the family and you make it happen.”

AnglicareSA is one of South Australia’s largest foster care providers, if you are interested in finding out more about becoming a carer, please visit anglicaresa.com.au/foster-care/ 

When he’s not working out in the gym, William is caring for those he loves. William was one-year-old when he was placed into care. AnglicareSA is sharing the now 20-year-old’s story, with his consent, to shine a light on the significant challenges young people exiting care face and the immense potential they provide in making our community a better place today and tomorrow. Read on to find out how you can help us support more young people like William.

William is building his body up to become a ‘strong man’.

“I can bench press 130kg and leg lift 550kg,” says William, who is very clear on his body-building purpose.

“A body builder works out to get ripped, but a strong man works out to be very strong. That’s what I want to be – a strong man. 

“I’m not about appearances.”

Those who know him well agree that William’s true strength lies on the inside.

The 20-year-old from Adelaide works hard in his retail job to keep a roof over his head and the lights on at night; he cares for his grandmother who lives a 45-minute drive away and remains connected to young people in care and his former support staff. He wants to advocate for young people in care so they know they are not alone.

“We are super proud of him” says Emily Rozee, AnglicareSA Supervisor of Participation and Wellbeing.

“Although William has faced significant hardship, he does not let this stop him,” Ms Rozee says.

“He continually rises above challenges and does so with a caring heart and big smile.”

His admiration is immediately evident at AnglicareSA’s city office – where most of the staff call him ‘Will’ and stand up with big smiles when he walks in the room, no matter how much time has passed between their last encounter.

William holding dumbbells and working out at his gym
William working out at his gym.

William was one-and-a-half-years-old when he was placed into state care with his older sister as it was no longer safe for them to live with their birth parents.

The siblings were moved in and out of a handful of foster care homes before receiving kinship care through their grandmother in Adelaide’s outer northern suburbs.

“The earliest memory I have of my childhood is my nanna,” says William. “She is the best nanna in the world – I call her every two days.”

William remained with his grandmother until he was about 11 years old and was then placed in residential care with several other children and young people for about two years.

He says residential care involved a constant stream of ever-changing children and staff, with no or very little privacy, and a number of “fights and arguments” among young residents. All of which, he says, added to the challenge of attending school regularly.

At 13, William came into the care of foster carer Frank. This was a good experience for William.  “He was the best foster carer I ever had – even though I gave him such a hard time. I still see him to this day. It was great – he was like the father figure that I never had.”

William was16 when he was referred to AnglicareSA’s Youth 180 program. It’s a service for young people aged 16 to18 under the Guardianship of the Minister which provides 24/7 support in independent accommodation. 

William smiling and wearing a hat and suit with his hands clasped in front of him
William says when he arrived at Youth 180 that he was suffering depression and needed stability and consistent care. It was at Youth180 that he learnt vital, basic life skills.

 

“I learnt how to cook, how to load a washing machine, how to budget, how to shop and how to find a job.”

This was preparing him to leave the care system.

In South Australia, young people will often exit the child protection system after their 18th birthday without the necessary emotional and financial support of family or state needed to navigate the challenges of early adulthood.

Two weeks before William was due to exit care and the Youth 180 program – which is only funded for young people up to age 18 – he still had no idea where he was going to live, nor how he was going to support himself.

 “As soon as you turn 18, it’s like you’ve fallen off a cliff or something – you don’t exist.

“I had no idea where I was going leading up to turning 18. I was worried I would be without a home.

“I was really worried because as soon as you turn 18 you’re on your own – you don’t have access to medical cover – what happens if something goes wrong, how was I going to pay for it?  I was scared. I was really worried about whether I was going to make it.”

William at AnglicareSA sitting behind computers with an AnglicareSA worker helping him
William settling in to an AnglicareSA traineeship in 2020. Photo: supplied

AnglicareSA worked hard to advocate for William, so that one week after his 18th birthday, he was able to secure affordable housing.

AnglicareSA helped William set up electricity, phone, and gas at his new home, helped him move in, and touched based with him after he was settled in. AnglicareSA made sure he was connected to a mental health worker and other outreach services.

William worked part time to pay for his subsidised rent and started a traineeship in youth work through AnglicareSA’s Post Care Pathways Program in 2020/21.

The Post Care Pathways (PCP) program, run by AnglicareSA and Believe Housing Australia, provides subsidised housing through self-contained, one-bedroom apartments in Adelaide’s inner south-west for young people leaving care from age 18 to 25.  

AnglicareSA Executive General Manager of Community Services Nancy Penna says the PCP program has so far provided 23 young people leaving care immediate access to housing that is safe, affordable, and appropriate during one of our nation’s most challenging economic and social times.

“The aim of the PCP program is to also provide individual support focussed on health, well-being, life skills, engagement in education, employment, and social inclusion to help guide those first, vital and formative steps into adulthood,” she says.

Ms Penna says some of the program’s young tenants have transitioned into private rental and social housing and almost all supported by the program are engaged in education and training or are employed. 

“Growing up is a challenge for everyone, but increasingly it is more difficult for young South Australians leaving care,” Ms Penna says.

“Without the same family support networks, our young care leavers are more vulnerable to ending up in crisis, including homelessness, as they enter adulthood alone,” she said.

William smiling and sitting with Felicity who wears a bright red blazer
William with Felicity, one of the first 15 young people to take part in the Post Care Pathways Program. 

William agrees that the right support can be life changing.

“I really feel like I’m in charge of my life now,” he says.

“I was one of the lucky ones.

“If I didn’t have the support services that I had, to transition out of care, I would have gone down a dark, rabbit hole. I would have probably ended up on the streets because family wasn’t an option for me.

“The emotional support was just as important too.

“The most important thing I learnt was to believe in myself. I was given self-confidence so that I could focus on being a better me.”

William is a passionate advocate for young people leaving care and says more social policy is needed to focus on this vulnerable group who are the state’s future.

“I really want to be a voice for those that can’t be heard.”

For more information on how you can help us better support young people leaving care call us on 8305 9200 or visit our Spring Appeal here.