ECEC Educator Emily opens her home and her heart as a foster carer
For early childhood educator Emily, the decision to become a foster care provider was an easy one, having crossed paths with many children who were living out of home during the course of her early childhood education and care (ECEC) career.
“It was just something I really wanted to do, then I had two housemates move out, which meant I had two spare rooms,” she explained. “I had the time and the space, so the decision was easy for me.”
She’s been a foster carer for five years now, and is currently caring for four children and young adults, including Khyl, who turned 18 at the start of the year.
“Khyl’s younger brother was in my care, so I’ve known him for a couple of years, then about a year ago he came to live with me.” Emily explained.
Khyl has lived in out-of-home care since he was one month old, first in the care of a family member, and then moving into the foster care system. He has lived in a few different foster care households and spent some time in residential care with other children and young people.
“Khyl has a tough shell,” Emily explained. “He swears, and he is a bit rough, but he has the most beautiful, biggest heart, and he is smart, not many people see that side of him.”
“He used to drop around to see his brother, and at times when he needed some time out he would come over for a chat. I helped him through a lot of things, I think he felt comfortable opening up to me, I never judged him, just listened and offered advice,” she added.
Khyl has been living with Emily for the past year, and they have had their ups and downs, and there have been fights.
“At times Khyl would threaten to leave, but I think because we have such an open and honest relationship and have built good communication, he has stayed,” she said.
“Khyl has such a big personality, he is kind and sweet, and he has flourished playing the role of big brother to all the kids, he is very protective.”
Getting his licence, and a new car, have been big priorities for Khyl.
“The day after he turned 18 he got his license, and he had been saving hard for his first car, which he recently purchased. I am so proud of him, he loves that car and loves fixing it up, he is always working on it, doing something, and if he doesn’t know how to fix something he goes about figuring it out, he is very resourceful that way,” Emily said.
Part of her role as a foster carer is to develop bonds with members of each of the children’s birth families, and Emily says siblings are always welcome to visit.
“It’s important for all the kids, and even if they are not biologically related to the family members they feel like they are part of the family, we are just one big family, that’s what Khyl really loves about being here,” she explained.
Her advice to others who are considering taking on a foster care role is to do it.
“Without doubt, being connected to a family, seeing children do new things, giving them experiences they haven’t had before, and spending time together is the best part,” she said.
“Celebrating the kids, the big and small milestones, their achievements, and their differences, it’s something I make an effort to do every single day.”
Emily is a foster carer with Oz Child. Learn more about their work here.
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