First-time foster carer Janine Gapes believes her family are the lucky ones as they care for a teenager with complex needs.
Mrs Gapes, husband Scott and their four adult children welcomed a female adolescent into their fold on Christmas Eve.
“If we were to do it, everyone had to be on board,” Mrs Gapes said.
“It was my children who came to me and said: ‘Mum, maybe we could do that.’”
While she said caring for the teenager was constant, there was plenty of training and support available.
“It’s really not what I expected,” she said.
“It’s not something we thought we’d be doing at this stage of our life, but, to be honest, it’s really brought our family closer together.”
She said the children had “stepped up” to look after their foster sister, collecting from her school, taking her to the movies and for drives.
“We will get so much more out of this process than what the child will,” she said.
“Although she’s getting a lovely home and everything, as a family and as a friend group she just lightens everything and brings us joy.”
Georgia, 24, said it was a “really rewarding” experience and her foster sister had become “a really good friend”.
“I love being involved and helping her,” Georgia said.
“I wouldn’t have imagined that there’s that many people in our area that need our help.”
Mrs Gapes said people had embraced their newest family member.
She encouraged others to consider foster care.
“I didn’t realise (the benefits of foster care). You’re living in your own little bubble and you don’t realise that there’s that many kids out there,” she said.
“It’s just heartbreaking. I think if they have one person in their life, whether it be on a weekend or a monthly basis or whether you can do school holidays – it doesn’t have to be full time. You could make such a difference.”
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