The five-year-old face of Centacare’s new foster care campaign is one of the lucky ones.
After spending eight months in residential care, `Jamie’ found stability and love with a foster family shortly before his fourth birthday.
Sadly, he is the exception rather than the rule, as a desperate shortage of carers for primary school aged children in South Australia continues to grow.
More than half of the children waiting for foster homes across the state are aged five to nine years old.
Centacare Foster Care Manager Amalie Mannik said an overwhelming preference for infants among foster carers has made it more difficult for Centacare to place children aged two and up.
“It’s incredibly challenging not being able to place this cohort of children, where the need is and I think this is due to a perception that older children are more challenging to care for than babies,’’ she said.
“But there are so many toddlers and primary school aged children who would be able to thrive and meet their developmental milestones if they had a stable, secure base and a nurturing home that could support them through life.’’
Centacare has launched a new campaign to encourage people to join our circle of care.
The campaign is centred on 18 fictitious characters including Jamie, which also feature in a new logo and program branding. The aim is to raise awareness of the need for more foster carers, and the different types of care that households can provide to help children of all ages.
Amalie said foster carers for children aged five to 12 were especially needed.
“These children are engaged at school, they’re learning to read and write and are at that beautiful age when they can start pursuing activities and experiencing new things, yet it’s very difficult to find them family-based homes,’’ she said.
“Out of all of the children placed within the Centacare Foster Care program, less than half are primary school age, which isn’t reflective of the need.’’
Amalie said foster carers with primary school aged children in their care regularly highlight the benefits of nurturing this age group.
“They support them with their school engagement and have the benefit of being able to gain feedback from the children during meaningful conversations,’’ she said.
“Not having to lift infants is less physically demanding, and they also don’t experience sleep deprivation as they would with an infant if they are waking through the night for feeding.’’
Centacare Foster Care provides immediate, short-term, long-term and respite care for children from birth until adulthood.
The process of becoming a foster carer can take between three to five months from application through to approval.
To join our circle of care, please phone Centacare Foster Care on 81591400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org