16 Jun 2022

Second generation foster carer helps young siblings thrive

Kym grew up with foster siblings, who remain an important part of family gatherings to this day.

This childhood experience inspired her and husband Anthony to become foster carers in 2017, when just in their mid-20s.

Since then, they have provided primary, emergency, and respite care while also raising their biological children.

Today, their family is comprised of eight children, including siblings Jennifer* aged 11 and Benjamin* aged seven for whom they are foster carers. Kym shares the challenges and rewards of being a foster care family.

Routine is key

Kym says routine is essential in their home and emphasises the importance of all children being treated the same.

“Every child needs to feel equal in what is expected of them and what they can expect from us as their parents,” Kym said.

“If one child has an after-school activity, then every child needs to have an after-school activity; it’s that simple really.”

When Jennifer and Benjamin arrived in their care just over a year ago, Kym observed they had no routine. Due to the chaotic environment they had been living in, Kym had to start with the basics for the siblings.

“Our home runs on routines,” Kym said.

“Benjamin thrived having the routine, having a bed time, doing homework, having regular meal times, and it really made a difference.

“When it came to after-school activities, he wanted to try dance.

“We checked in with his biological father, who we have a good working relationship with. It’s important the children see the adults getting along. He was very supportive of Benjamin trying dance.

“Benjamin loves it. He’s made lots of friends – represented the school in a dance eisteddfod and thinks it’s the best thing he’s ever done in his life.

“He’s such a wonderful kid. Seeing a child’s life change is huge. Knowing that we have done something so that life is going to be a little bit easier—that’s massive.”

Children need to be children

When Jennifer arrived, she would not eat initially and, like her brother, was not aware of and did not follow any routines.

“When she first came, she had been the ‘parent’ in their situation previously, being responsible for the care of herself and her brother,” Kim said.

“Jennifer was barely going to school. She engaged only with adults, as she didn’t know how to be a child.

“When she saw in our home all the siblings following their routines, playing with each other, including a child her age, she could see it was safe to be a child. It really helped to have that same-aged sister to connect with and show her the way.

“She even loves eating all her vegetables at dinner now.

Following a year in their care, Kym can’t believe the difference in the siblings. Jennifer is the vice-captain at her primary school, loves her after-school dance class and has represented her school district in cross country.

“It’s a really nice feeling to go to school events and multiple teachers come up and say thank you for your efforts, you have no idea how much you’ve changed this child’s life.”

*Names have been de-identified for privacy reasons.

If you are considering becoming a foster carer, find out more here.