Growing up, Kate Hawkshaw regularly shared her family home with foster children who came to stay on respite and short-term placements.
Years later, the experience drove Kate to pursue a career helping others less fortunate than herself.
“The reason I became a social worker was because Mum and Dad were foster parents; they definitely inspired me,’’ she says.
“It was a bit of a shock at first. We saw different behaviours from quite a young age but my parents set aside time for us and helped us understand that those behaviours were a reflection of the children’s backgrounds.
“I enjoyed it as a child because I knew our home was helping them. And I think it made our family a lot closer; we had more family discussions and were more connected through outings.’’
Today, Kate draws on this experience in her role supporting Centacare’s foster carers.
The carers are incredible; they are such strong advocates for these kids
– Kate Hawkshaw, foster care support worker
Part of a care team, foster carer support workers visit households every week for the first eight weeks of a placement and provide ongoing support thereafter.
“We carry them through those times when it can be hard, when they do need support,’’ Kate says.
“It’s lovely to watch the foster carers grow in confidence with the children. Over time, you can really see their relationship building. The carers are incredible; they are such strong advocates for these kids.’’
Foster carers receive ongoing training and are supported to nurture all areas of a child’s life, including connection to their birth family, education, and culture.
“Many of the children we work with haven’t had a secure start to life,’’ says Anne Bartholomaeus, foster care support worker
“Parenting a child with that background can be quite different to parenting your own, so we work with the foster carers to help their foster child make sense of their world.’’
Small milestones are celebrated along the way.
“It’s rewarding for us to watch them forge such strong relationships with the children in their care, knowing we have played a role in that.’’