Growing up with foster children was what inspired Shepparton’s Nicole Waldron to work at not-for-profit organisation Berry Street.ESTELLE GRIEPINK September 5, 2014 4:01am
Parents her inspiration: Shepparton’s Nicole Waldron grew up with foster children, which led to her pursuing a career in the field at Berry Street.
Ms Waldron was 11 when her parents became foster carers, welcoming children into the family home for as short as one night or as long as two years.
‘‘It was a really good experience because it brought a lot of things to my attention at a younger age and I feel like I developed empathy early on because of it,’’ Ms Waldron said.
‘‘When you’re a kid, you’re just about playing and doing your thing and then we’d have these kids coming in and it really made you appreciate how good your life was.
‘‘I also got to see how my parents were actually making a change in their lives.’’
Ms Waldron said her positive experience with foster children was what made her pursue a career in the field.
She worked in residential care before becoming a case manager in Berry Street’s kinship care program in April this year.
Kinship care differs from foster care because relatives or family friends provide it when a child cannot live with their own parents.
The carers can be anyone from older siblings to grandparents.
Ms Waldron, who is based at the Shepparton office, supports 12 carers across the Hume region.
‘‘We’re responsible for supporting the carer and making the child’s needs are being met,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s really rewarding when the carer is like, ‘Thank you so much, I feel so supported,’ and you know you are helping the child receive the best care they can get.’’
Ms Waldron said there was a huge demand for foster carers in Shepparton.
While kinship care involves the relatives or family friends of the child, anyone can express their interest to becoming a foster parent.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare says 616 carers left the system during 2012-13, while only 442 were recruited.
‘‘More carers have left the program than actually joined, so I’d definitely encourage people to do it,’’ Ms Waldron said.
‘‘It’s a really good because you’re giving the child a full, rich family environment — you can’t recreate that family vibe.’’
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