“THE biggest challenge is saying goodbye.”
Fay Alford has had to say goodbye to 87 foster children over the past 30 years.
She has fostered 90 children over that time but adopted three of them who became siblings to her own two daughters.
Mrs Alford said there were many highlights of fostering.
“The joy of seeing a child smile for the first time and feeling that you are doing something for a child that they will remember always,” she said.
“I think that as a community we all have a responsibility for these kids and we need more people to offer their home, hearts and lives.”
Children in State care are largely left to fend for themselves once they turn 18, making them our most vulnerable young people.
Community News is supporting Home Stretch, a national campaign urging all state governments to change legislation to support them until they are 21.
Here’s how YOU can help:
1. Join the Home Stretch campaign at: thehomestretch.org.au
2. Sign up to be a foster carer at: www.dcp.wa.gov.au
Mrs Alford’s daughters were age 13 and 11 when she and husband David decided to become foster carers.
“I was a kid in care myself, we had two kids and wanted more kids in our life,”
The Carine grandmother is on the Board of Directors of Kinship Connections, which helps Aboriginal children transit out of State care successfully through reconnecting them with their extended family systems, and identifying safe family members who will support them.
One of the foster children the Alford’s adopted is Aboriginal.
“Kids need to know where they came from, they need to have that cultural connection and we can’t give them that,” Mrs Alford said.
Kinship provides Aboriginal children in State care with a personalised book called Finding My Mob.
The organisation finds family members and sources old photos to create the book that ensures the young people have a connection with their family.
Mrs Alford is also on the committee of Home Stretch, a national initiative calling on all state governments to change legislation so children in state care are formally supported until the age of 21.
“Ideally I’d like to go to 25, but even to 21 will give these kids a better chance,” she said.
“It will also help kids with a disability.”