A busy week ahead for Foster Bear
To be a foster parent takes commitment which is what Child, Youth and Family is looking for during Foster Care Week.
Taking their quest to the streets to coincide with Foster Care week from November 3 to 9, will be Timaru social workers along with their mascot Foster Bear.
Foster Bear is the brainchild of caregiver social worker Adele Sherry, as a way to raise the profile of foster care in the community and get people talking and thinking about it.
CYF care team supervisor Sharon Lacey who has more than 20 years' experience, said caregivers were a vital element of their work to ensure the safety of children. As well as having commitment to the children they looked after, they needed to be resilient enough to ride out the tough behaviours, she said.
Prospective foster carers attend an information evening initially and those who wish to continue have three Ways to Care training sessions.
"This way we get to know them better," Mrs Lacey said. "All potential carers are not accepted and they can be challenged even if they do pass a police check."
Waimate security guard Stephen McGirr accidentally became a carer more than eight years ago when a friend asked him if he could look after his children with a rider that he be approved by CYF first. The reason for the seemingly odd request was that the children were in his foster care. Mr McGirr and his wife Kathy completed the training and were assessed as suitable.
They looked after the children and thought no more of it until a few months later when approached by CYF to take on a six-year-old boy.
Mr McGirr recalls an unforgettable first meeting with the boy.
"He booted a football up as high as the two-storey house and caught it. I thought, that would do me."
That boy is now 14 and still lives with the McGirrs along with six other foster children.
To find out more about caring for children, check out the caregivers section on our website www.cyf.govt.nz
- © Fairfax NZ News