Call for more foster carers

CARING: From left, foster carer Michelle Atkinson, Elizabeth Ward, Cassandra Mills and Child Protection Minister Rachel Sanderson.
CARING: From left, foster carer Michelle Atkinson, Elizabeth Ward, Cassandra Mills and Child Protection Minister Rachel Sanderson.

Whyalla is in need of more foster carers, with 20 young people leaving the steel city in the last year as a result of being unable to find a carer.

Child Protection Minister Rachel Sanderson met with local foster carers on Wednesday to discuss the situation and what needs to be done to rectify it.

"It's really important to try and keep young people connected to their community, their culture, and their school. So we are looking for more foster carers in Whyalla," she said.

"If there's anyone out there who has a spare room and would like to make a difference in a child's life they can ring 1300 2 FOSTER."

Regular payments are provided to foster carers through the state government depending on the child's needs as well as reimbursement for any extra costs.

Centacare Catholic Family Services SA is the main foster care agency in Whyalla. A total of 15 local children are currently living in residential care.

Ms Sanderson said the state government was hoping for at least 15 families to come forward and ensure those children can have a home.

"You can even start as a respite carer, helping on a weekend once a month or in the holidays. That's a good way to see if it's something for you," she said.

"In the past a lot of people believed that you had to be a couple to be foster carers, but now we have single people who are foster carers - real families come in all different shapes and sizes."

Local foster carer Michelle Atkinson currently has five children in her care, and says the experience has been demanding, but ultimately very rewarding.

"Everyone deserves to be loved," she said.

"Kids need a place to stay, they have their friends and school here so there's still some normality in their life if they stay in Whyalla."