NOW in it's 27th year, Foster Care Week is a time to acknowledge the contribution foster carers in NSW make to keeping the state's most vulnerable children safe in loving and stable homes.
However, with almost 20,000 children in NSW unable to live at home, there is an urgent need for more foster carers who are able to support restoration of children to their birth families, offer immediate or respite care, or move towards guardianship or open adoption of children in their care.
The Association of Children's Welfare Agencies CEO Andrew McCallum said while awareness of the need for foster carers has grown, an understanding of the range of caring options is still limited.
"The type of commitment needed from foster carers is changing,” Mr McCallum said.
"We need to attract people with a strong desire to support children to return home to their birth families, as well as those who wish to take the more permanent step towards open adoption or guardianship.”
"For Aboriginal children, this might mean putting your hand up to keep them safe and cared for in their own community, helping identify family members that can look after them until they're able to return home, or providing respite care to families in need of a break.”
Mr McCallum said there is also a huge need for carers with the ability to offer emergency care to children when they are first removed from their homes.
"Providing immediate care to children at risk of harm is a vital service to the community,” he said.
Everyday people from all walks of life can provide care, from single people, young or old, married and same sex couples and caring professionals, to empty-nesters and people from different cultures and religious backgrounds.
Like the foster and kinship carers being honoured around the state this week, ACWA are encouraging more people to help a child find their 'family for life' and give them a sense of belonging, stability and security.
To find out more, visit www.fosteringnsw.com.au or call 1800 236 783.