Fostering program extends its arms

KATHY Grace, 43, of Oatley, has cared for three different children in the past year.She looked after a three-year-old for seven months, a five-year-old for five weeks, and she’s had a three-year-old living with her for the past three weeks.

Mrs Grace and her husband are foster carers with the Benevolent Society’s Fostering Young Lives program.

The owners of Gracefully Fit and Healthy at Oatley — a triathlon, nutrition and naturopath business — were not able to have children of their own, so they decided to join the program two years ago.

‘‘At work I am constantly around pregnant ladies so I knew I wanted to somehow have children,’’ Mrs Grace said.

‘‘There’s such a growing need for foster carers and we thought it would be a great way to have children in our life.’’

The Graces are emergency and short-term carers to children kept apart from their birth families because of the risk of harm or neglect.

‘‘We chose this length of care because that’s the biggest need for kids,’’ said Mrs Grace, who had nine months of training.

‘‘There have been emotional ups and downs which can be challenging, but it has been a fantastic experience so far.’’

The Benevolent Society is now looking for more foster carers.

Anne Hollonds, the Benevolent Society’s chief executive, said many people did not realise they could become a foster carer.

‘‘Mother’s Day is an opportunity to recognise and acknowledge the special role mothers and grandmothers play in our communities,’’ Ms Hollonds said.

‘‘One group that is sometimes overlooked on these occasions is foster mothers and fathers who, along with their families, open their homes and hearts to some of the most vulnerable children in our community when it’s not safe for them to live with their parents.’’

Staff from The Benevolent Society’s Fostering Young Lives program will be at Hurstville station today to raise awareness about the need for more foster carers, in the lead-up to Mother’s Day on Sunday.


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