A life full of caring

DEENA COSTER
Last updated 05:00 24/03/2014

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For 20 years a New Plymouth couple have dedicated themselves to giving some of Taranaki's most vulnerable children a sense of what family really means.

Johannah Martin-Dromgool, along with husband Mike, are family home caregivers employed by Child Youth and Family to look after children in state care.

Taranaki has two family homes based in the region which provide care to around 60 children every year. Each home can cater for six children at any one time between the ages of 0-17 years.

Athough Mr and Mrs Martin-Dromgool have no plans of their own to move on any time soon, Child Youth and Family are currently looking for family home caregivers for their second facility.

Accommodation, financial assistance,training and other support are available for the successful applicants.

Mrs Martin-Dromgool said she had always had an affinity with children and came from a large family herself.

"I've been brought up around kids and always have had that closeness with them," she said.

The mother of two said the caregiver role was often a juggling act as all the children who came through the family home's doors were all different.

"You've just got to know how to adjust," she said.

Much of her day revolves around the children, from getting them off to school, to ferrying them to appointments or just being there to pick up the pieces after they have had a bad day.

She said although many of the children in her care had experienced serious difficulties, each one also left their own impression on the couple.

"There's always something nice that they can bring and something they can teach you as well," she said.

Mrs Martin-Dromgool said the support from her own children and wider whanau had been one of the main reasons she and her husband had remained in the role for so long. "That's certainly what works for me."

Although at times the role had been emotionally draining and frustrating, Mrs Martin-Dromgool said she needed to keep herself healthy and happy too.

"I had to look after myself to look after the kids," she said.

One of the best things about the role is when she is approached by people she has cared for and had not seen for years. "They say, do you remember me and I say yes."

For more information visit www.cyf.govt.nz.

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