Give love and stability to a child
THE primary quality a foster parent needs is love - the capacity to offer love and stability to a traumatised child whose behaviours may be challenging.
So says the new foster care manager for the Northern Rivers Child and Adolescent Specialist Programs and Accommodation (CASPA) service, Sean Taylor.
Mr Taylor is the "new broom" brought in to set up a best practice service geared to the needs of children aged anywhere from six to 17 who are deemed to be unsafe in their original family homes.
Coming from a strong background as a welfare worker and case manager, as well as having set up his own business providing round-the-clock support for foster carers in Sydney, Mr Taylor has just completed his first week on the job with CASPA at Lismore.
With his wife, Lisa, he has been a foster carer for more than 20 children, and has won awards from NSW Carers for his work.
"We're talking about intensive foster care here," he told The Northern Star.
"That means care for children who have experienced significant trauma due to neglect, abuse or other family problems, including drug and alcohol issues.
"When we talk of best practice we mean our approach is informed by what has been found to work best, nationally and internationally, in terms of short-term foster placements (where the goal is to restore the child to their family), longer-term placements, respite care and crisis care.
"We want to hear from people in the Northern Rivers who have the qualities of love without judgment, compassion, open-mindedness, honesty and good communication ability.
"Class and education are not so important. Some of my best foster carers in Sydney were from working-class backgrounds, lived in community housing and may have lived a fairly hard life and come through it.
"We offer training and assessment, and if a child is placed with them, step-by-step assistance from a well-qualified team and a 24/7 support network.
"Anyone who has ever fostered a child will know that, for all the challenges, it can be deeply rewarding."
People interested in becoming foster parents are invited to apply now. There is no discrimination of sex, race, religion or gender to rule out any applicant. Police and Working with Children safety checks are mandatory. Intensive foster carers receive a substantial annual tax-free payment to cover extra therapeutic programs for the children they take in.