Vulnerable children are not disposable.
That is why Northern foster carer Anita Jones has stayed in the system for eight years.
“When you know there is that need, I just couldn’t turn my back on that,” she said.
Ms Jones, 34, grew up around foster children from the time she was three years old, her mother and father still foster children.
She is also the Northern coordinator for the Foster and Kinship Carers Association Tasmania.
Growing up around foster children, Ms Jones said she thought of them like family.
And when she was an adult, she just couldn’t turn her back on that need.
The need for foster carers has never been greater, with Launceston-based service Glenhaven recently starting a recruitment drive.
“There is a huge need for quality, committed foster carers around the state,” she said.
Launceston and North-West-based Glenhaven has posted a banner out the front of a property at Riverside, to try and attract people to apply for foster caring.
“You keep caring for these vulnerable children because you love them and you want to see them thriving,” Ms Jones said.
Ms Jones is fostering three children at the moment but doesn’t have any children of her own. She is also a foster caring single parent.
“Being single never prevented me from deciding to become a foster carer,” she said.
She said being a single foster parent did have its advantages and she was lucky she had a great family support network around her.
To her, the children who come into her home are like her children for the time they are with her and she wants to improve their quality of life.
“They are not disposable,” she said.
Ms Jones said while there was a definite need for more carers, improvements could be made in the system to improve the support for carers.
Ms Jones regularly advocates for carers and their children and would like to see more intensive support and focus in the areas of emotional and psychological well-being, stability and permanency, and education.
“We already have some really good qualified, passionate carers and if the system supports them then in turn it supports the children,” she said.
“The reality is that most of the children coming into care have experienced a high degree of trauma and a carer needs to be able to love, nurture and support a child through the recover process, which can take years but the results are very rewarding.”
Foster care can be a rewarding experience, when you see children who you have cared for get small, but crucial wins.
It may be something as simple as improving their education attainment, or as major as being reunited with their biological family.
Ms Jones would encourage anyone to become a carer and said if anyone wanted to start out, they could try respite care first.
Respite care is offered through Glenhaven and other agencies such as Key Assets and the state department and allows people to “dip their toes into the water,” according to Ms Jones.
It is often temporary foster care, and allows vulnerable children and their parents or family some breathing space.