It’s our hope to see every child know and experience a loving home so they can hope, heal and thrive. Here are some stories of children and young people who are looking toward a future of great opportunity and hope thanks to the St Saviours team and our amazing foster carers – ordinary people with big hearts who have helped change lives.
Eighteen year old Harley is a top student who has recently enrolled at the University of Technology Sydney. He has also lived in Care for over 10 years.
Harley’s future looks bright and is a testament to both his own hard work and the love and support he received from his foster carers, Shirley and Vera.
“I was 7 when I transitioned in to Care,” says Harley. “And while the hardest part about being in Care is being separated from your biological family – it’s a confusing thing for a young child to go through – but the best part, at least for me, is that I got a second family. Shirley and Vera cared for me and made me feel like I had a home.”
“..the best part, at least for me, is that I got a second family. Shirley and Vera cared for me and made me feel like I had a home.”
Unlike many other children, Harley remained with the same permanent carers for the entire time he was in Care. He says that it’s this stability that helped make life so much easier. It also made the transition out of Care easier too.
“St Saviours staff have always been positive and supportive and prepared me for leaving Care. And knowing that I have a home with Shirley and Vera means that I’m not worried about the future but I’m excited,” he says.
Having completed his HSC and winning a scholarship to study Information Technology, Harley is now enrolled in a Bachelor of Information Technology and Diploma of Professional Practice. He also has lined up a part time job so that he can support himself as he finishes his studies. His plans are to work in network security or as a systems administrator.
Giving Rosie Hope Through TLC
The St Saviours Out of Home Care team piloted an innovative Transition to Leaving Care (TLC) program to help these young people cope with the transition out of Care and into independent living.
“The workers at St Saviours were great in preparing us to leave care, but it didn’t stop me from feeling nervous about leaving when I was about to turn 18,” says 19 year old Rosie, who was moved between a dozen foster homes before entering residential care at St Saviours at the age of 14.
Evaluation of the TLC program showed that a trusted adult and mentoring figure is vital to successfully navigating the transition to adulthood, and for achieving good outcomes in employment, education and housing.
“Knowing that you suddenly have to move out on your own and support yourself financially when you’ve always had someone looking out for you and paying for you is scary. Fortunately I was part of the TLC program, so I knew that if I was ever in trouble I could still contact my case worker, Cassie,” explains Rosie.
“It’s a huge call to expect 18 year olds, particularly those from traumatised backgrounds, to be emotionally and financially prepared for independent living,” says Rachael Atkinson, St Saviours Regional Manager. “We want young people to thrive, not left feeling abandoned without adequate safety nets and support.”
“Knowing Cassie is there for me as a mentor, especially when I was living on my own for the first time – that’s what’s made the difference in my life.”
For Rosie, who has bought her own car, rents her own home and is now as a youth worker caring for other vulnerable young people, TLC is not about a program – it’s about relationship. “Knowing Cassie is there for me as a mentor, especially when I was living on my own for the first time – that’s what’s made the difference in my life.”
Pictured above: Rosie and Cassie at the TLC Research Launch
“By the end of the training I knew that becoming a foster carer was something I really wanted to do.”
Like many people, Nicole had always wanted to have a family but since she hadn’t had any children of her own, she enquired about becoming a foster carer with St Saviours.
As a single woman in her 40s who works full-time and doesn’t own a home, Nicole admits that she challenges the foster carer stereotype and had some uncertainties at first. She praises the team at St Saviours who talked her through the extensive training to help her determine if becoming a foster carer was right for her.
“People joke that parenting doesn’t come with a manual. But with becoming a foster parent, you literally get a manual.” Nicole said. “By the end of the training I knew that becoming a foster carer was something I really wanted to do”.
When discussing how becoming a foster carer has changed her life, Nicole explained, “The change is huge! From not being a parent, to suddenly becoming responsible for two other human beings. It’s terrifying but it is full of amazing moments.”
Nicole proudly recalls how her youngest foster child was elected class captain at school for two years in a row and how both sisters have started flourishing at school. “My oldest used to hate reading, but now I can’t get her head out of a book.”
While Nicole made some lifestyle changes to accommodate the girls, she remains in full-time work as the girls attend school. “Becoming a foster carer brings big changes to your life but life goes on. There’s just more of us”.
Rachael Atkinson, St Saviours Regional Manager said that it’s important to understand the complex needs and traumatic past experiences of children in care. “Nicole’s own life story showed how she had moved through difficulties, met grief and loss and built a personal resilience that she could use to help children on their foster care journey.”
Nicole said what she loved most is that St Saviours never made her feel like she was just a carer and they take particular care in matching children to the right family.
“Every child deserves a loving home. If you think you can provide that, then go for it!”
“I know what homelessness is like, cause I’ve been homeless before. It’s not very fun.”
18 year old Brendan is a young person being helped by the Transition to Leaving Care program. Brendan loves footy and soccer, and has been in foster care since he was 3 years of age. But it’s been a tough road for the young man along the way.
“I know what homelessness is like, cause I’ve been homeless before. It’s not very fun”.
Brendan was 11 years old when he was homeless. He then bounced around a few foster carers before he came to St Saviours, where he found a place to settle in our residential care home. Thanks to the TLC program, Brendan is still able to turn to St Saviours for help and advice as a young adult.
“They helped me get the house. If it wasn’t for them, I probably wouldn’t be in the house. They give me help with food whenever I ask for it. If it’s ever an emergency situation I’ve got these guys to fall back on.”
Sadly not all young people who leave foster care have the same support. But thankfully for Brendan, he has a safety net as he learns to navigate through life as an adult, learning the necessary life skills like budgeting and paying bills.