Lynn and John – respite and short-term carers

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Lynn and John can’t imagine life without a house filled with children.

After raising their own two children, the South Sydney couple dipped their toes into the foster care realm when they first started volunteering nine years ago for Aunties & Uncles, a mentoring organisation that gives children an extended, stable family environment. Once a month, a little boy, who didn’t have many relations, would come to stay with them.

“His mother wanted him to experience an extended family scenario. We enjoyed the experience so much, we decided to look at other ways we could help children,” explains Lynn.

From this positive experience, the couple decided four years ago to become foster carers. In that time, they have provided emergency, respite and short-term care to 13 children and currently care for two sisters, aged four and seven, on a short-term basis.

“We love having children around the place,” says John. “There’s no doubt it keeps us young.”

Now in their late 50s, the couple say they have opted to provide mainly crisis and short-term foster care because those types of care fit best around their working lives. Lynn works two days a week as a nursing sister and didn’t want to give up her beloved job.

“You have to choose the agency that works for you when it comes to fostering because some of them don’t want you to work outside the home,” she says.

The couple have nurtured newborns to teenagers and say while there have been challenges, the hardest thing is saying goodbye when it is time for the children to go.

“You get attached. We nearly died the first time because we missed them so much. I don’t think it gets easier,” says Lynn.

“But you remind yourself you’ve helped to give them a good start and you hope they remember a good way to live. If you can give them good memories, that’s a fantastic thing. And you find you get to keep in touch with many of the children,” she adds.

Both Lynn and John say it is crucial that more foster carers come on board in the next few years.

“I wish we’d started fostering when we were younger,” says John.

“We’re in our 50s now and eventually we will have to slow down on the fostering front. We’ve heard there are not as many carers as before. It would be great to see other people take up the baton because the need for foster care is not going away. We are encouraging other people to consider taking foster care on,” says John.