ST Luke’s is calling on people to open their homes to children in need as part of National Foster Care Week.
There are about 90 young people in St Luke’s care every night but only a limited pool of carers, Carer Services Unit program manager Amanda Knight said.
“There are about 60 carer households at the moment in the Loddon-Campaspe region,” she said.
“That’s basically from Echuca all the way up to the Macedon Ranges, obviously Bendigo, Maryborough and up to Wedderburn, et cetera.
“The demand is primarily in Bendigo and Echuca and it’s huge.
“I don’t think we could say how many more we need, we just need lots more.
“We’re the only provider of foster care in this region so if we don’t have a placement then they’ll have to look elsewhere, which means that kids might have to be moved to Swan Hill or Mildura and away from their communities.
“This is going to mean that they have to move schools.”
St Luke’s will celebrate National Foster Care Week this week, with a special thank you dinner for its
team of carers tomorrow evening.
“The week’s a chance to acknowledge all our current carers and to also drum up publicity and, hopefully, attract new carers,” Ms Knight said.
“So if we can get people ringing up to inquire about it that would be great.
“Everyone can be a foster carer – anyone aged between 18 and 80 is eligible.
“I doesn’t matter if you’re married, single, with kids, without kids, gay or straight.
“A lot of people think that you need a family, but that’s not the case.
“I had one woman ring up, she was 60, and she said, ‘Oh no, you wouldn’t want me, anyway’ and I thought, ‘Oh, but we do’.”
Carer Services Unit team leader Jacintha Condillac said a versatile carer pool was a good thing.
“We like to have that variety to meet the kids’ needs,” she said.
“Sometimes the older people are better because they’re home all day, whereas sometimes you might want the kids with other kids in placement.”
St Luke’s will host a four-week foster care introductory course in November.
“There’s mandatory accreditation training and afterwards they get quite considerable support from St Luke’s when they’ve actually got kids in their care,” Ms Knight said. “And there’s 24-hour on-call assistance available.”
For more information about becoming a foster carer, phone St Luke’s on 5440 1100.