Greater Shepparton is in "desperate" need of more local foster carers, as demand surges in the wake of COVID-19.
This Foster Care Week, Shepparton child and family service Berry Street is welcoming "as many foster carers as possible" to meet the growing need.
“More children are entering care during the pandemic,” Berry Street senior manager of home-based care in Shepparton Sharelle Davidson said.
“More than ever, there are vulnerable families out there who require support.”
To even begin to meet demand, Ms Davidson said Berry Street required 10 additional foster families across the service delivery area.
“If we had that, we could meet the need for care much better than what we currently can,” she said.
Berry Street welcomes carers from all walks of life.
You just need to be over 21 and complete training provided through the organisation.
“Every foster carer has something different to offer,” Ms Davidson said.
Locals can provide respite care (one or two weekends a month) or emergency care, which is for children who require an immediate placement.
Short-term care is also an option, spanning a few weeks to six months.
Finally, there is long-term care — more than six months.
“We offer 24-hour support, and all carers have an allocated case worker to support them throughout the journey,” Ms Davidson said.
“Plus carers have access to ongoing training once they become accredited.”
Ms Davidson said family violence incidents had increased as COVID-19 placed additional pressures on vulnerable families.
This has led to an increase in children entering the foster care system.
However, locals can play a powerful role in offering support.
“Foster carers provide stability and love during some of the most difficult times, making such a difference for children's futures,” Ms Davidson said.
“If you’re at all interested in becoming a foster carer, please contact us. We would love to have a chat.”
For information on becoming a foster carer, including training, visit berrystreet.org.au/foster-care or call 1800836783.
READ MORE ABOUT FOSTER CARE IN THE SHEPPARTON NEWS