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Foster Care Week celebrates the crucial role carers play in making a difference in the lives of vulnerable children and young people in our community.

One of the many ways we celebrate our foster carers is through events such as the annual Foster Care Week picnic, where carers, children, young people and their caseworkers come together for fun activities such as circus skills, sumo wrestling, face painting and jumping castles.

This week’s celebrations will be held across CareSouth’s wide geographic footprint to show our appreciation for the amazing work our foster carers do and the invaluable contribution they are making in supporting vulnerable children, young people and the community as a whole.

We also acknowledge the wonderful work our foster carers do by sharing their inspiring stories in the CareSouth Magazine, on our social media platforms, on our website and on TV ads so we can highlight how a loving home and helping hand gives hope to vulnerable children.

If you, or anyone you know is interested in becoming a foster carer, have a look at our most recent campaign - Ask A Foster Carer. The video series provides an honest and open discussion about the highs and lows of foster care, and answers those questions that are important to anyone considering fostering. The responses are both humourous and heartbreaking, often raw but always honest. Foster carers dig deep into the heart of what it means to provide a loving home for children and young people and the highlights and challenges that brings.

Loretta is one of several CareSouth foster carers who feature in the video series. Her and husband Graham have been carers for almost a quarter of a century. In that time the Deniliquin couple have opened their hearts and home to more than 80 children, many with special needs.

When asked why she and her husband became foster carers Loretta’s response is simple: “It’s the kids that count and they’re the future”.

“They have a right to have as stable a life as possible and if I can give them that, then that’s why I’m a foster carer,” said Loretta. “Fostering taught me that these kids out there just want something. Family.”

Loretta is honest in her assessment of the foster care journey but points out that, like anything, you get out of it what you put into it.

“Fostering is a learned experience. You’ve got to remember it’s heartbreaking, it’s hard work, it’s rewarding, but it’s all learning as well,” said Loretta.

Loretta and Graham have provided a range of care to children over the years including restoration, long term, respite and emergency care. They are now in the process of adopting two siblings, a 12-year-old boy and 16-year-old girl, who have been with the couple for 11 years. They also care for an 11-year-old girl and her eight-year-old brother.

The aims of Foster Care Week are to acknowledge and celebrate the work of foster and kinship carers like Loretta and Graham and raise awareness of the value of foster care, foster care agencies and the need for more carers. Currently more than 350 foster carer households are needed to provide emergency, respite, short-term and long-term care for children and young people across NSW.

For more information about foster care watch the Ask A Foster Carer video on our website at www.caresouth.org.au/our-services/foster-care or connect with us via one of our social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn). But be warned, you will need to have a box of tissues nearby.

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