In the lead up to Carer’s Week, CareSouth’s Illawarra Out-Of-Home Care team hosted a High Tea at our Berkeley office to thank all of the dedicated foster carers with whom we work.

The High Tea was an opportunity for caseworkers and managers to show their appreciation for the wonderful work carers do to create positive futures for the children and young people in our program.

“On behalf of our whole team here I’d just like to say thank you for everything you do as carers, every day,” said Out-Of-Home Care Illawarra Program Manager Tracey Billett. “We know that what you do isn’t easy but you all do an amazing job and we’re extremely grateful for that. Without our foster carers we don’t have a Foster Care program so we want to make sure that we’re continuing to meet your needs and to improve our practice and how we work with you.”

The High Tea was also an opportunity for some of our carers to meet Tracey, who was appointed as the Illawarra Out-of-Home-Care program manager in May. Tracey has a wealth of experience in the child protection and community services sector and previously worked as a caseworker for CareSouth before returning to lead the team.

One carer who attended the High Tea was Annette Holmes, a short-term foster carer who has provided a safe, loving home for 72 children – most of them babies – over the past 20 years.
For five of those years Annette has worked with CareSouth and was one of the first Foster Carers to transition from FACS to an NGO.

“Being a foster carer makes me feel useful. I feel like I’m helping and contributing to improving their lives,” said Annette, who is affectionately known by all as Nanny Nette. “It’s so satisfying, creating happy memories and positive experiences before they move on to their forever home. The thing I love most about being a foster carer is that one person can make such a positive difference in the life of a child and that that child can also make an incredible difference in the life of the carer. It’s one of the reasons I do short-term care because I can help as many kids as possible.”

CareSouth Foster Carer Carolyn Vaughan agrees.

“Somewhere everybody can make a difference,” said Carolyn. “It’s about being willing to give and willing to learn, because it’s sure taught us a lot. The children that come into care, don’t come into care because of who they are they come into care because of a situation they’ve been brought into and it’s not their fault.”

Angela Seris, who has been a CareSouth Foster Carer for almost five years, said the support she gets from her CareSouth caseworker makes her role as a carer so much easier.

“You can work better with the kids because you have more of an understanding of their needs when you work closely with their caseworker,” said Angela. “Our caseworker gives us support and advice and a different perspective, which we don’t always see because we are right in the middle of it.”

Annette has worked with several agencies during her time as a foster carer and said the support she receives from CareSouth is “amazing”.

“I actually feel that I’m part of a team,” said Annette. “Of all the three agencies I’ve worked with CareSouth is by far the most supportive and the thing I love most is that the support is not just there for the children and the carers, it’s there for the birth families as well."

There is currently a need for 660 new foster carers in NSW to provide emergency, respite and short term care, carers who are able to support restoration of children to their birth families, carers wishing to progress to guardianship or open adoption and Aboriginal and multicultural carers.

Almost anyone can become a foster carer. Our foster carers are young couples, same sex couples, single people, have children of their own, have jobs or are retired. What matters is that you can provide a stable caring family environment for a child or young person. We provide ongoing support and training.

If you are able to help or would like more information please call 1300 554 260 or visit CareSouth.org.au