Minister visits ‘super mums’

Minister visits ‘super mums’

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Minister Simone McGurk with foster carers Lee, Annette and Sarah. Photograph – Richard Polden.

The unsung heroes giving crucial care and support to foster kids in Armadale and Cannington were in the spotlight during Child Protection Week in September, when Minister for Community Services Simone McGurk MLA visited the Department of Communities office in Armadale to discuss initiatives to support “Armadale Carers for Armadale Kids.”

Super mums Lee, Annette and Sarah spent an hour with the minister discussing the ups and downs of being a foster carer, in a meeting the minister described as, “a real privilege.”

“People talk about the child protection system and think that must be really tough, but honestly you also see the best things, the best in our community,” Minister McGurk said.

“Carers are such good examples of people who step up, you can see how much they put in and how much they care.

“They know what’s at stake and what a difference they can make.”

The Armadale and Cannington districts are home to hundreds of foster and family carers who care for more than 1000 children.

Armadale was the launch site of two initiatives in 2020 to deliver regular, catered meals and cleaning services to carer families, which have now been expanded across the whole of the whole East Metro region with the aim of easing stress and giving families more time with the kids in their care.

As of July, this year, 692 meals have been delivered with the goal of reaching 1000 meals by October, and 135 households across Armadale and Cannington enjoying regular cleaning services as part of the program.

“We believe children heal in their care arrangements,” Department of Communities Regional Director Ben Whitehouse said.

“The thing we need the most is Armadale kids to be cared for by Armadale people, and Cannington kids to be cared for by Cannington people, because that’s where their connections and families are, they heal in their own community.”

Kelmscott carer Rebecca said that, having spent time volunteering for underprivileged kids in Cambodia, it was always their plan to be a carer family.

“My husband and I talked about it before we had our own kids and we started the process when our youngest was two,” Rebecca said.

“He grew up with a foster brother, it was just something we always wanted to do, and we wanted it to be in line with our family as well – that whatever children we foster were a part of the family.”

With two biological kids of their own aged seven and nine, Rebecca and her husband said it was vital that their youngest addition felt at home.

“It’s always in our conversations that he is part of the family and we don’t treat him any different,” Rebecca said.

“Being in that supportive environment is such an asset to the kids. They’re healing from trauma, they’re getting to know what safety is like, and that can change their whole lives.

“We are very lucky that we have a good relationship with his biological mother and brother, he knows he has a “tummy mummy”.”

Rebecca doesn’t sugar-coat the hard work involved in taking on the role of foster carer, but says that the rewards are worth it.

“Parents all know that parenting is hard. It’s always going to be hard, but foster caring has so much joy and love, just like raising any child.

“It’s really important, and there’s such a massive need for carers at the moment as well.

“For us, everything is working really well. We are really engaged, the department do holiday activities every school holidays and we always go to them, it’s good to be in the community with other foster carers as well, to hang out with people who understand.

“Anyone can do it, anyone who parents, you can do it.”

To find out more about being a carer in your local community, contact Teigan Reilly on 0476111050, or email eastmetrofostering@communities.wa.gov.au