Foster Carer's Week: Tamworth's Simon Carter talks all things foster families

CARING: Foster carer Simon Carter and his wife look after a 10-year-old boy and have provided respite care to kids from other families. Photo: Peter Hardin
CARING: Foster carer Simon Carter and his wife look after a 10-year-old boy and have provided respite care to kids from other families. Photo: Peter Hardin

FOSTER care is not a simple choice, but a conscious decision to change the life of someone less fortunate.

This week is Foster Carer’s Week, and that’s the perspective of Tamworth foster carer Simon Carter.

“We’re a very ordinary family, there will be a time when you think, ‘I actually like the way my family dynamic is now, why am I introducing something to change it?’” he said.

“Bringing in a child who’s come from a different dynamic is going to rock the boat, there were times when I wondered why on Earth we were going through it because it was going to be difficult.”

Mr Carter and his wife foster a 10-year-old boy, and have two sons of their own, aged 14 and 16.

It is different than parenting a child who has the foundational knowledge of a mum and dad who love them since birth.

Simon Carter

Their two cats laze about on the lounge, and a new Labrador puppy chews up recycling in the backyard.

An Anglican minister, Mr Carter felt it was important to take biblical messages about caring for orphans and widows seriously.

“Going into it we sat down as a family and talked through the concept, how we want to be generous and take care of other people,” he said.

“We kept saying change is not bad, the circumstances will be different but different isn’t bad either.”

Around 18,000 children are in out of home care in the state, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare statistics reveal.

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Along with the long term care the Carter family has provided, they’ve provided respite care for six children.

But it’s not all roses, earlier in the year the family had a child incorrectly placed with them.

It was a stressful time but one that Challenge Community Services walked them through, and one Mr Carter believes actually strengthened his family dynamic.

It taught his sons the importance of trusted friends, teachers and support people in tough times.

“I don’t think you learn resilience in a cotton ball, you learn it through actually exercising it,” he said.

Anyone can be a foster carer, but not everyone should Mr Carter said.

“You want to have the right mindset where you’re going to be committed to going through something that’s potentially hard, if you aren’t willing to do that then it’s going to fall flat, it will be damaging to you and the child that’s with you.

“But yes, anyone can do it because it’s about loving a child, love is not something that’s about hugs, it’s a decision where you make a decision for the good of another person and anyone can do that – we’re not special.”

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