CINDY Lehmann has been a foster carer for 24 years and reckons her passion for the role has only intensified.
Achieving good outcomes for many of the children in her charge had boosted her commitment, Mrs Lehmann said.
“I’ve been able to see what works,” she said.
She made progress with her foster children when “they knew she was in it for the long run”.
“Some will do anything to break their placement,” she said.
“For some it might take two years to know you will not give up on them.”
Mrs Lehmann and her husband Stephen were among 14 foster carers honoured last week by Brophy Family and Youth Services for their dedication.
Others honoured at Brophy’s annual general meeting were Gwenda and Cliff Woolcock (29 years’ service), Jean and Wally Paton (27 years), Helen and Terry Thornton (25 years), Carol and Alex Mathews (24 years), Judy McPherson (21 years), Judy Grace (17 years) and Marlene and Wayne Johnson (16 years).
The carers have a combined 180 years of service to Brophy between them.
Mrs Lehmann said her family had cared for 313 foster children in the past 24 years.
The care had been a team effort that also involved the couple’s own nine children.
“When they (the foster children) come into my house, I say we are your mum and dad and these are your brothers and sisters,” she said.
Mrs Lehmann said her family was able to offer foster children a safe place and consistency of care.
She said many of her charges had experienced sexual abuse or their parents had drug and alcohol problems.
She aimed to break their cycle of trauma and poverty by helping them get an education.
Mrs Lehmann was last year named Victoria’s carer of the year and said the award had given her more clout to advocate for her charges.
Brophy has 60 out-of-home carers and 612 kinship carers.
Brophy’s out-of-home care team leader Lynne McCosh said its foster care program provided care to children and young people who couldn’t live with their own families.