Virginia Walsh finds it hard to explain the feeling of why she wanted to be a foster carer but she has always known it was something she had to do with her husband Garry.
Providing care for 67 children over 16 years, the Emu Plains couple are reflecting on their journey during Foster and Kinship Care Week (September 11-17).
Once the couple’s three children had grown up, they decided to apply to open their home and hearts to those who needed some help.
“I was happy to go along with it once we were in a position to have the spare room available and able to provide the children with a safe and nurturing environment,” Mr Walsh said.
“As soon as I said yes to Virginia the phone was being used and we started the process of applying and going through training.”
Mainly caring for babies for up to a year while court proceedings determine who the long-term carer will be, Mr Walsh said the sleepless nights and dirty nappies don’t bother him.
“It is not a struggle, but you do need to get into the routine of feeding them every three to four hours and all the appointments with the paediatrician or getting immunisations,” he said.
“It is all worth it though to see the child grow, to meet milestones and to see their personalities develop. They go from a bundle in a bassinet to sitting up and getting ready to crawl.”
While it is part of the process, Ms Walsh said the hardest part of being a foster carer is saying goodbye to the children.
“When a child moves on it really hurts and I get down for a while, but I always say a part of our hearts go with them, so we have parts of our hearts all over the place,” she said.
“It is good to know you are doing something that can help someone else. Some of the parents are young and don’t have support to know what to do so they get put through training courses and we help in the meantime.”
With 12,600 carer households across the state, the pair encourage anyone who may be considering becoming a carer to look into the range of options.
“There is always a need for additional people to get involved whether it is emergency care, short term or even respite on weekends,” Mr Walsh said.
“It is so rewarding and there are many people who would do an excellent job, so if you are interested take that first step.”
To learn more, visit www.myforeverfamily.org.au.
A graduate of Western Sydney University, Emily covers Local, State and Federal politics for the Weekender, as well as crime and general news.