Deniliquin is in desperate need of more foster carers and local couple Christine and David Donald are urging people to get involved in what they describe as a ‘‘rewarding experience’’.
The Donalds have been foster carers for the past 16 years.
Because they have assisted with short-term, long-term, respite and emergency care places for children ranging from newborns to 16 year-olds, they have have lost count of how many children they’ve fostered.
But it is through fostering the Donalds, who have four biological children of their own, officially added an extra member to their family.
After having Lily in their care for seven years, they officially adopted her in 2014.
‘‘Lily was a delight when we adopted her, and is still a delight now,’’ Mrs Donald said.
‘‘We had fostered her for a long time and she was going to be in the system for the rest of her life due to needing special care.
‘‘We wanted to get her out of that system and give her a permanent home, so we adopted her.
‘‘She will never be able to live independently and we wanted her to have that security.’’
The Donalds also care for a set of brothers, who will remain in their care until they are 18.
‘‘The three boys have been in the system since they were babies,’’ Mrs Donald said.
‘‘Our desire was to keep them together and with them around we definitely have a sense of family.’’
Mrs Donald’s passion for foster caring started at a young age.
Her own parents were foster carers, and she said that experience inspired her to follow the same path.
‘‘I was fortunate to find a husband who was willing to do it as well,’’ Mrs Donald said.
‘‘Once our youngest child was 10 we decided we would start fostering.
‘‘Seeing and encouraging the children to reach their potential is one of the greatest rewards. Being a foster carer is a difficult, but very rewarding endeavour.
‘‘Carers provide the children with the next best thing when it’s not possible for them to be with their birth families.
‘‘Our goal is to make them happy and useful members of society.
‘‘The children we have taken care of have generally been loving, quirky and happy little people.’’
CareSouth has said it particularly needs foster families for young children and teenagers in the Deniliquin area — short-term carers, respite carers, and those interested in fostering to adopt.
Mr Donald said anyone can be a foster carer as long as they can build trusting relationships with birth families and work alongside CareSouth to return children home safely.
‘‘There’s an urgent need for carers so if you’ve thought about doing it, now is the time. CareSouth is your ally and provides training every step of the way,’’ he said.
‘‘You do need patience, resilience, a sense of humour and empathy to foster.
‘‘Foster caring does become your life once you get into it, but there’s always support there; you’re never on your own.
‘‘Whether you’re single or married, don’t doubt yourself and step up to help these kids who are in need.’’
For more information contact CareSouth on 1300 554 260 or go to www.caresouth.org.au/.