Foster carers and birth families are swapping sounds and pictures to stay connected during COVID-19.

Their creativity is bringing joy amid the chaos to children, siblings and parents living apart.

“Something like this always births innovation, and our families are going above and beyond to make sure there’s still meaningful and regular contact,’’ said Amalie Mannik, Manager, Centacare Foster Care.

From video updates to recordable teddy bears, new ways of keeping in touch are emerging each day.

“Some birth parents have recorded lullabies on video, or into special bears, so that their children can still hear their voice,’’ Amalie said.

“Others have been singing songs and telling bedtime stories on Facetime. Even just to be able to see their child’s bedroom, that sort of connection is so important.

“A lot of the foster carers have put together little photo books and templates so the kids can show mum and dad what they’re doing each day.

“The birth families miss their kids. They love them deeply and unconditionally, so having face-to-face contact decrease so dramatically is really tough.”

Amalie said the creativity was doubling as an important learning tool, with foster carers able to provide guidance and feedback to birth parents, based on their interactions with their children.

“So as much as they’re keeping in touch, they’re also learning new ways of connecting with their children.’’

Innovation amid COVID-19 has changed the way Centacare Foster Care operates too.

In lieu of face-to-face contact, support workers are now consulting with foster carers via phone or virtual consultations. Training is being conducted by video and a new work booklet, while information sessions are being delivered online.

Virtual assessment visits have also been introduced.

“We are looking at increasing respite for households that need it, and we have developed `emergency plans’ for the children if carers become unwell,’’ Amalie said.

For more information about becoming a foster carer with Centacare, please phone the team on 8159 1400.