At Christmas, our Foster and Kinship Care (FKC) regions each host a party for foster carers and the children they care for. Karen Vanderburg, FKC Program Manager for Mercy Community’s Ipswich region, attended the party organised by her team, where she had the chance to talk to many of the children.
‘We had about 150 people attend this year,’ said Karen. ‘Many of those are children in stable placements, which means they’ve been with the same carers for a few years now. It also means they’ve had the opportunity to attend some of the summer fun events we organise, such as the 4-day camp at Tallebudgera and Surf Life Saving days at the beach.’
‘At the Christmas Party I was talking to a few boys, and they were very excited about the events coming up again. One of the little boys, who’s about 11 or 12, told me he couldn’t wait to go to the Surf Lifesaving Club again, because the first time he ever got to go to the beach was on one of these Mercy Community beach days.’
COVID-19 put a stop to many of Mercy Community’s group events, but now in accordance with government directives, they are now able to continue. While these events are organised by the FKC team, carers play a big part in helping the children get ready and the teams couldn’t do it without them.
For the children, the events are something fun to look forward to and a chance to meet more children in care, make friends, and try something new.
Karen had more than a few questions to answer at the Christmas party, as the children were keen to know what was planned for this year.
‘They were asking me what was in store and saying things like “Can we be part of the planning? We’ve got some really good ideas. We really love it.” One of them said to me “I’m nearly 12, can I be on the management committee for it?” There was another little boy in the conversation too, and we talked about these get-togethers and he chimed in with “It’s really nice to have a big Mercy family.” I thought that was really sweet, that they are looking at other kids in care as being part of their family as well,’ said Karen.
‘These kinds of experiences are available to the children who have stability of placement. And we have stability of placement because we have really committed carers that are in it for the long haul and are passionate about providing the best care for these children,’ said Karen.
‘These memories that they’re making… these are the positive things that they can take forward about their experience in care. That’s what it’s all about.’