There is an urgent need to place Gippsland children in foster care, ranging from overnight to longer term.
A number of agencies manage foster care in Gippsland and they will all tell you that the need is great but, despite the occasional challenges for carers, the rewards are life-changing.
Among the agencies is OzChild, a not-for-profit that has been operating in Victoria for more than 160 years.
Over the last year, OzChild has had almost 350 foster care referrals within Gippsland, 37 of them were sibling groups of two or more. Sadly however, only 34 children were able to placed.
The need is already great but is likely to increase further, according to OzChild’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Lisa J. Griffiths, who is expecting an increase in children being removed from families as the devastating effects of COVID-19 unfold.
“No doubt many hundreds of families are struggling, and children and young people are at greater risk of harm as a result of the coronavirus crisis,” Dr Griffiths said.
“Gippsland families have been forced to spend long, uninterrupted time together, normal support systems have not been in place and greater financial and emotional stress can place vulnerable children, young people and families at greater risk.
“I am certain, the demand on the foster care system will be greater than ever before, for a long time after the coronavirus crisis. The need for more foster carers has never been more important and recruiting foster carers in Gippsland is a priority for our team,” Dr Griffiths said.
“While foster care can be challenging at times, the rewards can be life changing. I encourage anyone wanting to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable Gippsland children to reach out to our local team. With so many kids in need carers are in high demand, demand that is only expected to grow,” said Dr Griffiths.
Who can become a foster carer?
• Anyone over the age of 21
• Anyone with secure accommodation and appropriate space and safety in the home
• Race, gender, marital status, employment, sexuality and religion do not affect a person’s eligibility to become a foster carer
OzChild provides full training and on-going support to all carers.
• 24/7 carer support
• Respite support
• Ongoing training opportunities
• Community building and access to other social (virtual) events
Visit ozchild.org.au to find out more. OzChild’s Gippsland office is at 2/55 Grey Street, Traralgon.