BYRON is a typical 18 year old. He has recently completed year 12, he has just gotten his licence and has a girlfriend.
He also grew up in foster care.
“We were in and out of care when we were really little,” Byron said of himself and his siblings. His single father struggled to cope.
“We’d get taken away, then go back home the next day or week. We’d stay with a bunch of different people we didn’t know.”
Byron had placements all over the region including Violet Town, Wodonga and Wangaratta. He doesn’t really remember all of his carers but recalls small details from different homes – the spicy smell of the Strasburg one carer put on his sandwich; the tall, flat roof of a foster home where his footy once got stuck; the green scooter a carer had specially made for him for Christmas one year.
Byron has lived with his current carers, whom he calls Nan and Pop, since he was 12.
“As soon as you walk into their house, they ask you to call them Nan and Pop. They really make you feel like you’re actually family not just foster kids,” Byron said.
“Foster care has gotten me from a low point in life to where I am succeeding. From where it was not safe and I was not going to achieve anything or get anywhere, to somewhere that is safe.
“I have the help and support to make a better life. They helped me continue school and get a job. There are people there for me now. My carers and the workers from Upper Murray Family Care put me on the right path that has given me a brighter future.”
There is already a desperate need for foster carers in the North East region, particularly those carers who can support placements over a long term and those who can take in sibling groups.
An informal information session ‘Conversations with Carers’ will be held in Wangaratta on Tuesday, March 26 at UMFC on Mackay Street.
There will be an opportunity to meet current foster carers and learn if foster caring is right for you. Registrations can be made at www.bit.ly/umfc2019 or by calling 02 6055 8000. Enquiries can be made to: [email protected]
“My foster carers and my case workers completely changed my life,” Byron said.
“If you’ve ever considered becoming a carer, just do it.”
For more on UMFC: http://umfc.com.au/