Picnic to raise awareness of the need for more foster carers

PICNIC: Michelle Naylon, Pearl Bailey and Katharine Micka have been involved in organising the 'Teddy bear picnic' to celebrate foster carers and raise awareness for the need for more in the Ceduna region. Picture: Luca Cetta
PICNIC: Michelle Naylon, Pearl Bailey and Katharine Micka have been involved in organising the 'Teddy bear picnic' to celebrate foster carers and raise awareness for the need for more in the Ceduna region. Picture: Luca Cetta

The Ceduna community is invited to attend a ‘Teddy Bear picnic’ next week hosted by Centacare and Aboriginal Family Support Services (AFSS) to celebrate Foster and Kinship Care Week 2018.

As well as celebrating the efforts of foster and kinship carers, the picnic also aims to raise awareness of the need for more foster carers in the region.

The picnic will take place from 3pm to 6pm outside the Ceduna Sailing Club on Thursday, September 13 – or at Ceduna Area School should the weather not be good.

AFSS manager Katharine Micka said this was a chance to recognise current foster carers and make others aware of what foster care entailed.

“There are under 20 foster carers here – we mainly have kinship carers, so a carer who is a related family member,” she said.

“Events like these are important to help raise numbers, plus there are also recruitment stalls, open days and flyers which provide information about foster care.”

The event is free and families are encouraged to attend to enjoy fun activities such as a treasure hunt, arts and crafts, games, a photo booth and story time with members of the Ceduna Library.

Centacare’s recruitment and assessment officer for alternative care Pearl Bailey said getting past the established thinking around foster care was important.

“This is an innovative way to raise awareness and is a community-focused way to celebrate our carers,” she said.

“It is important to break the stigma that people think foster care is always long term.

“It does not have to always be long term, there is a need for respite care, which is short term and could be for a weekend here and there which gives the child new experiences and gives the long term carer a break.”

She said it was vital for the organisations to convey that message.

“It is about being present and getting the message out there, because it can take time for people to make a decision about whether they want to become a foster carer,” Ms Bailey said.

“We won’t hassle you, but we can guide you in making a decision.”

Ms Micka said potential foster carers had options.

“People can choose what type of care they would like to provide, whether it is long or short term, and they can say no,” she said.

“It is about matching a child to the best family possible and how it suits the family dynamics.”

AFSS family-based care support worker Michelle Naylon said events such as the picnic were important as it helped the community to see who was involved in the process.

Ms Bailey said Centacare would also be delivering a free foster care orientation training session called ‘Shared lives’ on October 26 and 27.

“It will give insight into what foster care is about and if it is right for you and we encourage all to attend.”

Call 1800 795 865 to register.