Ms Styles (43) became a single foster mother to a brother and sister, aged eight and four respectively, three-and-a-half years ago.
Despite its challenges, the schoolteacher said it was the most amazing experience and encouraged others to become carers after recent Department of Child Protection (DCP) figures revealed a need for non-related, general carers in the Perth district.
Ms Styles said she wanted to have children and thought of going down different avenues, vaguely thinking of becoming a foster carer.
‘I hadn’t thought I was a suitable candidate, I thought DCP would want couples,’ she said. ‘I made inquiries and found out they’re happy to have a range of people as carers.’
Ms Styles began the process of becoming a foster carer and in about a year she was caring for the siblings.
‘The fostering process happened really quickly for me, but that’s not always the case,’ she said.
‘I didn’t find it a difficult process at all; I found it very useful and a positive experience. There are assessments and workshops you go to and an assessor comes out four or five times to talk you through the process.
‘I really enjoyed the workshops because I had a chance to meet other people who were looking at caring, and we had a chance to meet foster carers who have been doing it for a long time. They had so much advice.’
When Ms Styles began fostering, she said it was for a ‘medium term’ and that she never expected to keep the children for so long.
She said after three-and-a-half years of not knowing what the future would bring, DCP had applied for an order to 18-years-of-age, which would give the children and Ms Styles stability and assurance of what the future held for the three of them.
With the children now 12 and seven, Ms Styles said the youngsters had come a long way since they moved in.
‘I have seen huge changes in them,’ she said.
‘They have developed emotionally, socially and academically and are so much more relaxed.
‘It’s been an amazing experience for me and I wouldn’t want it any other way, but it has been extremely challenging.
‘These children come with extra challenges because of being removed from their birth family.
‘It would be very hard coming into a new house and being expected to fit in and follow new rules.’
Ms Styles said potential fosters needed to learn more, and know what options were available to them.
She said there was a wide range of foster caring, from emergency to short term, long term or respite care.
‘It’s important to talk to DCP ” ask for what you need and take that initiative,’ she said. ‘Use the training; there is a lot available.’
Ms Styles said the children had changed her life for the better.