As she got older, Prospect grandmother Debbie Cashion thought she'd left motherhood far behind in her rearview mirror.
But fate had other plans, and she and her husband would wind up as informal kinship carers to three of their grandchildren.
Mrs Cashion said she had been fighting for more than 12 months to receive monetary assistance from Tasmania's Child Safety Service, but she has not received help, and her CSS case has been closed.
She says now is the time for the government to re-examine support for kinship carers, as Tasmania looks to rebound economically from the coronavirus pandemic.
"I didn't think I'd end up being a mother again...and I didn't think it was going to be permanent," Mrs Cashion said.
When the children arrived in their grandparents' permanent care, they struggled with health and learning difficulties.
Mrs Cashion said she had spent hundreds of dollars on medical and education expenses but doesn't receive much support.
She has had to reduce her hours at work because she can't meet the children's caring needs and work full time. However, she said she was lucky her employer offered her flexible working hours in school time for the days she can work.
"We lie awake at night and the thoughts, they just keep swirling around in your head, you don't know what you're going to do," she said.
Foster carers and formal grandparent carers receive state payments of between $500 to $1600 a fortnight depending on the age and needs of the child, while informal grandparent carers receive almost nothing.
A state government spokesman said a review of the support available in Tasmania had started and $200,000 will fund a kinship carer liaison officer. However, it did not commit to instating a payment for informal kinship carers like Mrs Cashion.
In other news:
Informal kinship carers only receive the same payments as foster carers when a Child Protection Order is in place.
Mrs Cashion said she believed that because she had done the right thing and shouldered the responsibility for her grandchildren's care she was being penalised unfairly.
"If I said I couldn't look after them, they would be taken into foster care and probably separated, and that carer would receive payments almost immediately," she said. While the children are deemed safe in her care, Mrs Cashion said her stretched financial situation was taking a toll on her mental health.
She said she only purchased food that was on special at the supermarket and she would often sell the children's outgrown clothing and toys on buy and swap pages.
"We are always trying to sell the things they have outgrown, even to get a few dollars, to buy a loaf of bread," she said.
Her credit card is at its limit, and she and her husband have had to dip into their home loan several times to get ahead.
"We were at the stage of our lives where we thought we would be able to enjoy being grandparents - we could go out for a meal, or go away for the weekend but we can't do any of that now," she said.
While Mrs Cashion said she did not regret taking on her grandchildren, and she wouldn't change it for the world, all she was asking for was some monetary compensation to support her unexpected expenses.
The state government spokesman said informal kinship carers could access some payments through the federal government, with schemes in place to help with essential purchases but there is no regular weekly payment in place.