Generic photo of a mother and foster child. Picture: iStock
Generic photo of a mother and foster child. Picture: iStock

Desperate need for foster carers in Central Queensland

SEEING the high demand for foster carers in Central Queensland, Rockhampton resident Tanya Watts put her hand up for the role about 13 years ago and hasn’t regretted a single moment.

Ms Watts is a foster carer with Foundation Care and the Queensland Foster and Kinship Carer FAST representative for Central Queensland.

She is currently caring for five children and has two teenagers of her own.

Rockhampton foster carer Tanya Watts. Picture: Contributed
Rockhampton foster carer Tanya Watts. Picture: Contributed

She said it all started back when she was working in childcare.

“We had a lot of children coming in from child safety that were with carers and the demand was high, so I thought I would start fostering short-term placements,” she said.

“I never thought I would be a foster carer but seeing there was a need for children to have temporary/long-term homes I thought I could help a few of those kids until their parents got the support needed to have their children back.”

She said it always warmed her heart seeing the difference she made to not only the children’s lives but also the biological parents’ lives, “knowing their child has a safe, caring environment at home”.

She said it was a role that was both rewarding and challenging.

“You do get the little people who have got big emotions and it just takes a lot of patience and understanding to help those children work through those emotions,” she said.

“But the smiles and the thanks you get from parents for looking after their children until they get them back is priceless.

“It is always tough to see the kids leave, a piece of your heart goes with them, but you come into this knowing they are not your children, that it is only short-term.”

According to a statement released by Churches of Christ in Queensland, on any day of the week, there are more than 10,500 children and young people in Queensland unable to live at home for a range of reasons, including family and domestic violence, drug and alcohol addiction, abuse and neglect.

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Ms Watts said there was an urgent need for more foster and kinship carers in Central Queensland.

“The rewards of helping the children and giving them stability and a home is huge,” she said.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re married, single, de facto, as long as you can provide a safe environment and care for a child.

“There are also many different carer roles available - short break care, where you are giving carers and the children time out from the demands of caring full-time; short-term/emergency care, which is only temporary until a suitable carer can be found; or long-term until children are reunified with their parents or alternatively a home until the child turns 18 and longer.

“So even if someone can’t commit to full-time caring that’s totally okay as we still need regular short break care carers who can take the children on regular weekends each month. They will get to see the children grow, support the primary carers and, most importantly, make a positive impact on a child’s life.

“Children only get one childhood, but the experiences and memories last a lifetime.”

To become a foster carer, register your interest by calling Queensland Foster and Kinship Care on 1300 550 877, or by calling local support agencies to find out more information.

Foundations Care: 4927 3196

CQID: 4920 0000

UnitingCare: 4930 7300

Anglicare CQ: 4837 5300