Mum of 30 calls for more carers
GOONELLABAH mum and former teacher of 14 years Jo Mincher remembers fondly all of the close-to 30 foster children she has cared for over the past two years.
This week is National Families Week, and Ms Mincher has described it as a time to reflect on the importance of family and to consider the option of becoming a foster carer.
"Sometimes people forget how important the family is," she said.
"Foster caring is another dimension of families. There's two-parent families, there's same-sex families, there's grandparents," she said.
Association of Children's Welfare Agencies CEO Andrew McCallum is an ambassador for this week's National Families Week.
He said family was the single most influential force in a child's life and more effort should be channelled into better supporting those who are struggling.
Ms Mincher provides emergency care, respite care and long-term foster care to children through Child and Adolescent Specialist Programs and Accommodation, which is based in Lismore.
She decided to become a foster carer two years ago after she was faced with a difficult decision.
"I spent 14 years teaching and then I had a few medical problems ... I wasn't sure if I could actually do teaching again so this was the next best thing - I wanted to be a foster carer," Ms Mincher said.
She encouraged anyone who has ever seriously considered becoming a foster carer to do so.
"Anyone is able to be a foster carer. If you are a kind, caring person, anyone from any walk of life ... there are so many kids in New South Wales - let alone Australia - who need a loving, caring, supporting home where they're nurtured," Ms Mincher said.
Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has revealed more than 11,500 children were moved into out-of-home care during 2014-15, with New South Wales accounting for almost 30% of this figure.
It is estimated that 450 new foster carers will be needed over the next year in NSW.
Ms Mincher described foster caring as a truly rewarding experience.
"I often reflect on where the children were when they first came into my house to when they leave and there is a huge difference," she said.
"They still have things to do and things to learn but it's amazing to see how they have progressed."
National Families Week, May 15-21, promotes stronger families and stronger communities.
If you are interested in becoming a foster carer and want to learn more then visit www.fosteringnsw.com.au or phone 1800 236 783