Monday, July 26, 2010

What does it take to be a carer?

Scared childImage via Wikipedia
It really does take some dedicated people to be foster carers. My partner and I have only been caring for kids in our home since last year, but already we've met with some pretty challenging behaviours!

Can you imagine a child you have never met before, coming in to your home, opening your fridge and just taking something to eat without even a 'Hi, how you doing?'!!  Or what about talking to a child about bed time and having them ask you, 'Who is going to smack us when we are bad?' We even had a child pretend they were a dog for hours on end after a particularly stressful event that happened for her. No words, just 'woof' and 'grrruff!' She even curled up with our dogs to have a nap and would only respond if we spoke to her like she was an actual dog. These are just some of the 'simple' behaviours we have come across. I will mention more in future posts.

Obviously those things are mild, for us - not the kids. But I have heard so many stories of kids coming into care, throwing knives at their carers, screaming abuse, swearing and trashing their homes. What do the carers do? Generally they take it in their stride. They call the 'on call' help number for their agency, DOCS or the police, but once the child has settled down again, they keep working with them until they either return home or they are moved to another placement.

Some of the most horrifying stories I have heard about kids behaviour, you just wouldn't believe and that's really not what this post is about. It's about the 'why' of this behaviour.

Even if the kids don't realise it themselves, they are for the most part just plain scared.
How do people know their carers are ok?Image by sicamp via Flickr
  • Scared of a new placement with people they don't know.
  • Scared that they may never see their parents again.
  • Scared they will see their parents again.
  • Scared they may actually like these new people they are living with but will have to move on.
  • Scared the new people won't like them.
  • Scared they will! Scared of rejection, humiliation, failure, success, happiness, love, the unkown.

And scared equals  fear which can turn to anger. And what do kids or people in general do when they are angry and unable to express themselves? They lash out or withdraw.
Angry manImage via Wikipedia

Children as young as 3 can show violent behaviours towards carers, swearing, hitting, smashing things and no normal behaviour strategies that you may use with your own kids will work. You can't smack them or even threaten to smack them, you can put them in their room and shut the door, you can't even really let them out into the back yard to cool off for fear they may run away!

What do you do? You become eternally patient and understanding, take as much training as is offered and try everything you are taught to keep these kids safe and help them feel like they are wanted and loved in your home.

If the child is as young as 3 or 4 you may even succeed in helping that child have a successful future. But what if the child is 8 or 11 or 15? It's much, much harder.

In this article 

Taking vulnerable children into care earlier could save on emotional and financial costs, a study suggests.
Delays in removing such children from their families are linked with poor mental health and behaviour, say researchers from the Demos think tank.
The report, funded by Barnardo's, says the care system should be de-stigmatised and seen positively.
It says the state can pay nearly £33,000 more per child per year if they have received poor care.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Local MP donates to the Project

MP donates items to support backpacks for kids in need

Backpacks for Aussie Kids
Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt has thrown his support behind an initiative to provide backpacks to children entering foster and kinship care.
Mr Pitt said he first became aware of the initiative when he met Despina Parakas at the Cairns Baby Expo.
“Despina explained that she and her partner been looking at taking on the role of foster carers and had discovered that in many cases the children are put into care with nothing but the clothes they are wearing,” Mr Pitt said.
“I asked how I could contribute and made the pledge to supply items for toiletry bags – soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste and deodorant.
“It can be extremely traumatic for a child to be taken into care, often without notice, so it is good for them to have these personal items to help cope in a difficult time.”
Backpack organiser Despina Parakas said she had made it her mission to fill 1,000 backpacks with essential personal items for children in care. Miss Parakas has now expressed a desire to continue the project indefinitely.
“The backpacks will contain clothing, pyjamas, a little blanket, new underwear, age appropriate toy or book, toiletries and a torch,” Miss Parakas said.
“All donations are welcome – just remember children in care can be all ages, from newborn babies to teenagers. Pre loved clothing and toys in good condition are always accepted as well as donations of brand new underwear.
“Items can be dropped off at any Overflow store in Cairns, Innisfail of the Tablelands – just look for the wheelie bin with our logo on it.”
For more information visit

(taken from I did not write this :o)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

When I was a child....

Have you ever thought to yourself  . . . 'When I was a child I would never have talked back to my teachers', or, 'When I was a child I was happy to have an empty cardboard box to play with!', or even, 'When I was a child I used to play with the other kids in the neighborhood and wouldn't come home till dark'. ????

As I teacher I have often thought to myself and 'vented' to my teacher friends that I would never have even thought about saying 'no' to my teacher, or throwing a chair at them or swearing at them!

Of course, when I was a child I was taught by the nuns at a Catholic school and would cop the hard end of the feather duster for daring to talk in class. My leather shoes were always shiny and I took a good old Vegemite sandwich and a piece of fruit to school for lunch. If I was really lucky, sometimes I got to share it with the ants that sheltered in my school port ;o)

Now, when my Dad was a child, (of migrant parents from Greece), he got to go to school because he was a lucky kid. It was a luxury and not a right and most kids saw it that way. The ones who didn't fit in had jobs by the time they reached year 7 or 8 and if you were a girl you really weren't expected to finish primary school much less high school to year 10!

There were trades for these kids to learn, jobs for them to do before and after school, not for pocket money, but to help the family survive.

I think Dad finished year 10 but he always pushed himself to work and ended up managing many businesses (including his own) before society deemed it necessary to have a bit of paper from university to say you could do something you had absolutely no experience in.

The kids growing up today seem to be doing so at an increasingly fast pace. Little bras and 'panties' for 4 year olds and bikinis for young girls! Shorty-short shorts, (you know the ones I mean) and skirts for girls and make up kits, shoes with heels and provocative tops. The boys are encouraged to play violent games, (yes, Cops and Robbers and Cowboys and Indians were violent, but there were wooden guns, not semi automatic plastic machine guns!), they are styled to dress like they woke up in what they are wearing and the hair! Don't even get me started on the I-haven't-brushed-my-hair-for-a-month look that takes about 45 mins to perfect!

The movies the kids are exposed to, even just the previews on the TV are enough to make them nag and beg until the parents are taking their 7 year old kids to see movies like SAW and the Date Movie, both highly inappropriate for anyone under the age of 16.

So, why I'm I on about this? Have you wondered why kids end up in care? Yes there are hundreds of different reasons, from kids having babies, to abuse, neglect, cyclical care where the parents were in care and now their children are in care and yet they have more kids.

What can we do? Pretty much nothing. We can't help the parent who is taking their young kids to see inappropriate movies, we can't even help that particular child. What we can do is look after our own kids. Help our friends and relatives who may be struggling with day to day family life. Have a sleepover roster with a couple of families so one couple gets a whole night to themselves once a month. Talk to eachother, talk to your kids about the ads they watch on the telly that are a bit much, (like the new Crunchy Nut Cornflakes ad! I love it, but it took a bit of explaining to the kids we had at the time that it was a joke).

If we talk to our kids the way we would like to be spoken too (still remembering that the parents have the final say), they will talk to their kids like that. They may even be able to make friends with some of the kids at school that are deemed strange or weird because they have learned tolerance and compassion from you.

I guess there is no particular point to this blog. I have just been thinking about what childhood means these days and how much harder it is to be one. You couldn't give me enough money to go back and do it all again in this day and age. I was lucky to have  a happy childhood with no major traumas, a loving family and extended family and it really does hurt to see kids who don't have any of these things.

What is your favourite childhood memory?


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Where does the money go?

Someone sent me an email the other day asking a question I hadn't been asked before and honestly had never even considered!

The question?
"Where does the $25 for the Sponsor a Backpack go? Is it all for the backpack or is some for admin, wages or other expenses?"

Now, don't get me wrong, this is a great question and I'm glad it was asked!

The answer!
All the money from donations go into the backpacks and nappy bags. We purchase all the things we don't get donated and most of the time, I personally pay for any delivery fees and postage of the backpacks to centers and agencies.  I pay for the advertising, (except once, but I had so much guilt about it I haven't done it again), phone calls, internet, laminated certificates, flyers, contact cards, stationary and all other admin costs including coffee, tea, chocolate and foot rubs for my partner Bruce, (because he's so wonderful, supportive and patient with me doing this project!)

As soon as our incorporated status is confirmed I'll be looking for a grant to apply for to cover admin costs so we can increase our profile not just on the net, but in the real world too!

I am thinking of adding a 'donate to admin' button on the site, LOL !!!!

So, believe me when I say, your money is going where it should. I absolutely LOVE to get donations through the mail and it's great when the courier turns up with boxes of donations for project! But the money is handy for when we need to top up on certain things like undies and nappies for example and sometimes it's just too expensive to post stuff!

I'd like to personally thank all the fans, followers and supporters for their trust in the project. This project really is a community in itself.

(and a side note - if anyone wants to put our banner on your page, or blog or include us in your newsletter, just email me at!)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Less cranky blog

Righto, I got another email from that other project mentioned in my previous blog. It said that they didn't mean to offend (I sent a reply email to say how disappointed I was at their reaction and hoped we could work together in the future etc), and it also said they'd assist if possible.

Glad they wrote back though.

In two minds about replying. Can I be bothered to form a relationship with a group that has such a strange attitude? or do I put it down to a bad day from the author of the email? Maybe they don't really reflect the views of the group?

Hmmm.... thoughts anyone?
Related Posts with Thumbnails


Related Posts with Thumbnails