CARING FOR KIDS: Foster Parents, Milly Betteridge and Russell Trebilcock, in the nursery room of their home they use to look after foster children.
CARING FOR KIDS: Foster Parents, Milly Betteridge and Russell Trebilcock, in the nursery room of their home they use to look after foster children. Jacklyn Wagner

Children in need of love

COLOURFUL toys are strewn about the playpen that sits in the back room of Milly Betteridge and Russell Trebilcock's home while pretty mobiles hang from the ceiling.

The retired couple in their late 50s are foster carers for Community Services, giving short-term and emergency care to babies under two years old.

“When we retired two years ago we wanted to do something in the community,” Milly said. “So we put our hands up for respite and emergency care”.

While a child may be in Milly and Russell's care for only a day, the average has been around three months.

“You get attached to the children,” Milly said. “But what you are doing is providing a safe, secure place while the family works things out.

“A little bit of us goes with them when they leave.”

“And a little bit of them stays with us, as well.” Russell added.

Milly and Russell decided that short-term care of babies was more suitable for them due to their age and lifestyle.

“With children under two we can't guarantee that we would be around for longer term care,” Milly said. “And babies respond well with us as we have a quieter routine and approach.”

Both Milly and Russell agree that the rewards of foster caring can't be measured.

“When you walk in their room in the morning and they give you a smile,” Russell said. “You can't value that.”

“There's also the personal feeling that we are making a difference,” Milly said. “We hope to give them a little bit of resilience for their longer term carers.”

The couple currently have one child in their care. The child has been with them for three months and will soon be moving on.

“We haven't been short of a baby yet,” Milly said. “Sometimes we have two.”

Milly and Russell encourage anyone thinking of being a foster parent to just do it.

“If you have the energy and heart, then seriously consider fostering,” Milly urged.

“It's not that hard to open your home to just one more.”

There are 94 authorised foster carers with Community Services in Lismore, but it is looking to broaden its pool. For details on becoming a foster carer, call the Foster Care Recruitment Line on 1800 011 110 or visit www.fosteringnsw.com.au



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