Rewards of fostering child just as good for parents

Mother Caroline Hellyer (55) walks a dog with her foster daughter (15) in Brighton. Photo by...
Mother Caroline Hellyer (55) walks a dog with her foster daughter (15) in Brighton. Photo by Craig Baxter.
A teenage foster child might keep their bedroom just as messy as a biological child, but the rewards are equally satisfying as well, foster mother Caroline Hellyer says.

Ms Hellyer said she and her partner, Warren Turnbell, had fostered their teenage daughter since August last year. She was their only foster child and while she had struggled to adjust in previous foster homes, she just settled right into the family's ''down-to-earth'' Brighton home.

''She just fitted in and she's been with us since.''

She and Mr Turnbell had seven biological children between them and there was ''zero difference'' between their biological children and their foster child, Ms Hellyer said.

''She has a home with us now until she is ready to move on, which she tells me is 27 years old,'' Ms Hellyer said, laughing.

Convincing her daughter to tidy her room was a challenge and, at times, their relationship could be ''full on'', but a shared sense of humour made it work.

''There are times that we laugh so much that I have tears rolling down my face.''

Potential foster parents should give it a go or trial fostering a child at the weekends, she said.

Child, Youth and Family (CYF) Otago/Southland care services manager Judy Larking said she was ''in awe'' of the ''selfless'' act of foster parents.

''They are the people that have this ability to see a sweet child, where other people see antisocial behaviour and no hope.''

CYF wanted more foster parents on the books so they had more options and were able to best match a parent to a child.

Potential foster parents could contact CYF and would be provided with training and support through every stage of the process, Ms Larking said.

A suitable placement helped the child ''overcome the trauma of their earlier history'' and achieve their potential faster.

''It is to everyone's benefit to have these young people functioning as responsible members of our community, rather than being young people locked up in prison.''

CYF had 159 children and young people aged between 10 and 17 in care in Otago and Southland, Ms Larking said.

- shawn.mcavinue@odt.co.nz

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