As a Social Worker, Foster Carer, and someone with a care experience, Naomi has had a front row seat to the world of Foster Care.
Naomi is currently a Social Worker with a Christian welfare agency. She’s seen the positive difference that Foster Care can make. “I’ve been in the privileged position to see kids in care and the results of them being in care,” she says, “the big things that come to my mind is that they’re safe, they’re secure, they’re cared for, they’re shown love. They are also role-modelled some really great skills they’ll need into their adult years; how to communicate, how to interact, how to just do life. That role-modelling is amazing.”
“We’ve seen some absolutely beautiful stories,” Naomi says. “There was a child who was part of our agency’s Foster Care program who came from a hard background. His mum was unable to care for him and there was no dad on the scene. He formed a great connection with his carers. Now he and his wife have two children and they help to look after kids who are in our Foster Care system. He’s one of our best carers. He’s amazing!”
The need for people to step into this space is significant. Naomi shares, “There’s a massive need for carers, there’s massive waiting lists. For carers themselves, they need a lot of support and a lot of encouragement.” When asked what a church can bring to this space, Naomi says, “It’s the fact that church is community, not just for the child to experience a really positive, vibrant community but also for the carers themselves. It’s a hard gig and they need help and lots of prayer as they navigate looking after other people’s children. It’s tough, but it’s the community that you get from a church that you can’t get from anywhere else. It takes a village to raise a child.”
Having been a Foster Carer herself, Naomi offers a well-informed perspective. “The things that really helped from the church were just the practical things. Often kids came to us with no clothes and not the right bedding and all that sort of stuff. Donations of those things, donations of meals, and someone to talk to. It can be pretty lonely at times, and you can feel like you’re the only one that’s doing this, so people taking note of the kids and interacting positively with them, but also supporting and encouraging the carer as well, chatting to us and reminding us why we do these things.”
Naomi’s own story includes an experience of being in the Care system as a child when her family broke up and her mum just needed support and help. “I was very passionate about being a voice for kids and advocating for them, so I started working in welfare as soon as I was old enough and mature enough and decided that’s where God was calling me.”
We’re not all called to be social workers, or carers, but we can all do something to be a supporter, encourager and advocate for kids and families involved in the Out-of-Home Care system.
If you want to engage your church to support carers and make a difference in the Out-of-Home Care space in your community, find out more about how The Homeward Project can partner with you at the link below.