ALBION Park residents Leah and Paul Warner have fostered more than 10 children over the past 12 years.
In an effort to help William Campbell Foundation match appropriate foster carers with children aged between 0 and 18, the Warners shared their foster parent story.
The foundation will be holding an information session this Thursday, July 31 from 5pm at Dapto Ribbonwood Centre.
Leah and Paul have cared for siblings Ryan and India since they were just 15 months old and Leah said she had come to appreciate many of the highlights.
“Our foster children have taught us lessons about what is important in life and the values and beliefs that we hold true. We’ve learnt empathy, patience, perseverance, and persistence,” Leah said.
“It means a lot when our foster children feel safe to say 'I love you' and call us mum and dad.
“I would definitely recommend becoming a foster carer. Never underestimate the impact you can have on a small child. As much as you give out you will receive tenfold back.”
Paul and Leah have three children of their own and their youngest was four years old when Ryan and India joined the family.
“It has been a positive experience for all of us. Our own children love Ryan and India and treat them like their own brother and sister.,” Leah said.
“Our kids have grown up knowing that life doesn’t revolve around them and they are global citizens with a worldview of how life can be for other kids. I wouldn’t be surprised if they became foster carers themselves.”
“Of course there are sacrifices, with five children you can only give each child a certain amount of time and energy, but that’s life. And we do work as a team, as a family, plus our friends and family are a strong support system.”
The Warners decided to transition to the William Campbell Foundation a couple of years ago.
The foundation recruitment manager Ngaere Rayner said they were in need of respite carers to give a child’s main foster carers or family a short break.
“Each family’s needs vary, but often respite is a weekend once a month and a week of school holidays,” Ms Rayner said.
“Respite foster carers are an integral part of our foster care team and receive the same training and support as our long-term foster carers.
“Many people who contact us are worried that they don’t have what it takes to be a carer. All you need is to be over 21 years old with a stable lifestyle and have a genuine desire to help children, and a willingness to learn.”
William Campbell Foundation will hold a free foster care information session on Thursday, July 31 from 5pm, at Dapto Ribbonwood Centre. For more information call 1300 130 585 or visit www.wcfoundation.org.au