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Happy Volunteers Week!

Hope For Our Children is 100% volunteer run! This is fantastic as it reduces the overhead costs and makes sure that any money donated gets to the front lines of what we do. It also means, that you our volunteers are VERY important and the lifeblood of HFOC!

So THANK YOU to all the volunteers that have given their time, money and energy towards keeping #HFOC running.

We have volunteers who give their time for

  • backpack drives
  • admin help
  • carer support
  • grant writing
  • events
  • therapy dog
  • submission writers
  • political meetings
  • knitting groups
  • sewing groups
  • general donations

and these volunteers often don’t get to see all the work of each other’s areas. For this reason we wanted to create a financial year overview of what we’ve accomplished in the past year.

To all the volunteers that made this year happen, THANK YOU!!!

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The Magic of Movement

Recently I’ve been listening to a great audiobook recommended to me by Backchat Speech Pathology. Highly recommend you read it, especially if you have a child on the spectrum, with ADHD, ADD, Dyslexia, Trauma History, Learning disabilities, high energy needs…  


I will risk the sweeping statement that all children would benefit from the incorporation of this book into their home/school and childhood journey.

Check out the book here

Grab your copy from
https://www.amazon.com/Spark-Revolutionary-Science-Exercise-Brain/dp/0316113514

We’ve incorporated movement into our life as a high priority because we had children who looked like they needed medicating and were too young to medicate. So out of sheer desperation to get sleep, and lessen the aggression in the soul of our little one, we started chatting with all our kids about ways to lessen punishment for behaviours that they couldn’t control.


And instead, redirect said behaviour into an exercise that was fun not more punishment.


And let’s face it…. I could do with more exercise (my Hubby too… 😊)

So we started small with the suggestion from the kids that at meal times if someone didn’t remember their manners, they could do pushups per their age. E.g. if the 5yr old burps at the table, they would do 5 push-ups. This redirection of behaviour was hilarious, and for the first week, we had all children burping, passing gas, talking with their mouth full, flicking food etc. just so they could do pushups, and giggle all the way through the experience.

Soon the table became the pushup cheer squad for the member with bad manners, and it changed the atmosphere of our meals.

After one week of sore muscles, the kids magically retained and remembered their manners. .Be warned if you try this at home, no adult is exempt! And those kids, they watch you like a hawk, to be able to send you off to do your 35push-ups. Full disclosure here……. I’m still shaky after my 10th push-up.   

Soon we started branching out our movement incorporation into boxing bags and gloves at home, skipping ropes, BMX bikes, trampoline time, walks around the block etc. Those were things we regularly added into our day, and we limited screen time to Friday night movie nights or special occasions…. Like when Mum has a migraine. I bet that most of you probably already incorporate that into your lives, or can easily and cheaply.

The trick is when you incorporate the movement, it’s addictive, everyone’s mental health improves, relationships build through positive competition… especially if you’ve got some teens wanting to test out their Mum & Dad’s abilities.

Next came planning weekends as a family, actually scheduling cheap activities (mostly free) and movement based. Hiking, National Park walks, joining RSPCA’s Million Paw Walk. Our goal of the day was to see how many children we could exhaust by the trip home… spoiler alert, Mum & Dad don’t last as long as the kids most times 😊

We’ve now started regular weekends away camping and the planning that goes into them is SO FUN!!! Here is a clip to check out and hopefully inspire you! Steal our ideas, share your photos and videos with us! We want to see you all out having fun and building relationships with your kids, after all, we don’t have them for long.

FYI, our dog and my husband were completely well after the crash on the video, was a bit funny though!

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When Things Are Tough

In Queensland it’s simple math, there are more kids in care than there are carers. Stats retrieved from
https://www.csyw.qld.gov.au/child-family/our-performance/summary-statistics

Children Needing Care: 9,793

Carers: 5,258

Carers Exited Last Year: 1,335

According to statistics on the Department of Child Safety (2018), one-third of carers leave the system after two years, or after one order/placement….. in layman terms, after one child or sibling group.

  1. Being a carer of someone with health issues is hard
  2. Being a carer of someone with mental health issues is hard
  3. Being a carer of children is hard

Foster carers care for children with all of these factors, it can be brutal.

Even when the children are wonderful and behaviours are settling, it’s the system, court, specialists, extended families, biological relationship conflict, contact, giving evidence, lack of friends understanding… it’s these things that can be the tipping point. Tipping point being carers leaving and children yet again being bounced in care. Causing the continued cycle of rejection, disadvantage and suffering.

For these reasons, it’s important to have support from people who have experience in this field. We cannot invite brokenness into our homes and not be affected. We have a great and very experienced counsellor on board at Hope For Our Children, and we have helped lots of families access calm and strategies through such care.

We get it, at Hope For Our Children we believe that support and access to therapists for the whole family is imperative. It can be to help with parenting issues, marriage issues, help cope with a reunification. We offer families that want access to counselling, 4 free sessions. If you’d like to take us up on this offer, contact our office, hopeforourchildren@yahoo.com.au

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Stranger Danger

shutterstock_152714603

You know that early morning rush, bags are packed, hair done, notes written to teachers, last-minute dashes back to the car for the homework satchel or hat forgotten on the backseat. As a Mum it’s so easy to be caught up in that rush, organising children, discussing afternoon pick up, afterschool extracurricular activities.

These moments are the moments that my foster daughter loves taking advantage to do what my hubby and I call ‘Mummy Shop’, look around for a better Mum, friendlier looking Mum, maybe one that packs a better lunch box or gives more lollies. Who knows what she looks like but it’s in this crowded rush that my gorgeous little girl with piggy tails runs up to another group of Mums, boldly approaches while they are chatting and says,

‘Hello!’

 ‘Hello’ they all reply, ‘don’t you look pretty with your hair in pigtails!’ effortlessly my foster daughter slides her hand into one of the Mum’s hand and leans into her waist cuddles into the stranger.

 ‘Oh! Isn’t she precious!’ Some of the ladies exclaim! Reaching out to touch her hair, stroke her cheek or pat her back.   

By this point I’ve noticed the missing child, I am cross because our stranger safety rules are not to talk, touch or cuddle strangers and she is currently breaking all these rules. I rush over, interrupt, apologise and attempt to remove the angelic looking child from the smitten group of women.

‘Oh, she’s no bother!’ The lady cuddling my child smiles up to me, ‘really, what a lovely young girl to be so affectionate’.

Removing my foster daughter from these situations is always tricky, as she then proceeds to ask the ladies for food, phones, money. I’m now running late, and I leave with a very sullen child who thinks I’ve just taken her away from her new best friends.

 

No matter what your official title is, foster carer, kinship carer, adoptive parent, biological parent of a child with trauma if you are one of those you have most likely had this experience. And usually, you look like an awkward Mum, shrug it off and try again to reinforce stranger safety to your child. But we all know actions speak louder than words.

The truth is all kids with attachment disorders often seek out the attachment in inappropriate ways. The reason that these children climb on strangers’ laps, kiss strangers and even ask to go home with the strangers is that these precious children have deep wounds understanding their worth. They are starving for the reassurance that they are wanted and loved. These children, however, seek out strangers to meet these needs, not their caregivers.

To the friendly stranger at the shops, sports fields or school, we are glad you won’t harm our child, but as a stranger, you are reinforcing the belief to my child that all strangers are safe to talk to, touch and cuddle. Strangers and safety is not the truth, the next stranger that my child runs to, may not have the best intention for them and this makes my child an easy target for abuse.

The best thing you can do when you see an overtly affectionate child, offers a hi-5 or shake their hand and then redirect them to their caregiver.  Phrases like, ‘cuddles are special and just for Mum’ ‘remember it’s not safe to cuddle strangers, cuddles are just for family.’ By redirecting the child to their caregiver, you are reaffirming them of their place of belonging, offering them security and encouraging them. When a child is reaffirmed in their place of belonging, this helps them to heal long term, not a short term attention fix but a deep anchoring of their self-identity.  And I know that this is what we all want. 

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Poet’s Love

Here is a poem from one of our carers.  A carer’s love for a child in their home whether temporary or long term. erica-marshall-flickr-creative-commons-family

 

3 Years ago you both landed softly on our lap

And It’s so special to fill this important gap

 

With lots of tears, sweat, joy and prayers

We embraced each day as much as we could bear

 

We’re happy to see you both excel in life

And taking all life challenges in your strife

 

As for now, we will still look up and embrace all

No matter what the size of challenges  – big or small

 

We will always be by your side

And one day, see you off with so much pride

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​When will you be ‘mine’?

The first rule of fostering is ‘don’t get too attached’ right?
I mean ‘they’re not yours’,

‘you’re just filling in for a bit’,

‘it’s like you’re a kindy teacher…just 24/7’.

Yeah right?!?!

We’re not talking about inanimate objects here!

We’re not talking about a nine to five job where you can clock off and go home at the end of the day.

And let’s face it, the very thing these kids need is a genuine attachment.

But is it what I need?  This hurts!!!

Our foster daughter loves the phrase ‘Fabulous Good’…so for the sake of anonymity, within these meandering thoughts, she can be called Miss Fabulous.

Initially, I thought we’d only have Miss Fabulous for a short time.

So I kept my distance…emotionally that is.

Physically she was HARD WORK

24/7 HARD WORK.

The problem with hard work, while you’re trying to keep your heart hidden away, is that it’s even harder…know what I mean?

After years and years and years of looking after Miss Fabulous and the aching process of bit by bit handing her my heart….I’m still asking the question:

When do I get to call her ‘mine’?

Technically I am her ‘carer’ not her ‘mummy’.

Technically she is my ‘foster child’ not my ‘daughter’.

Early on in our fostering journey I read an article about a fostering system …I think in England…where the biological parents have 2 years for reunification. After this period has passed, if reunification hasn’t been achieved, then the foster child can be adopted/permanent placement.

I’m not an expert in child psychology… but from my limited experience…

that sort of system seems to make sense to me.

Security, certainty, permanency…

If the child and carer have formed an attachment bond why keep tearing it apart?
Recently we experience a terrifying ‘incident’ which left our whole family shaken. As I held a sobbing, trembling Miss Fabulous in my arms the words that soothed her came from deep within me:

‘You’re ok,

You’re safe,

I’ve got you

Mummy’s got you…… and I’m never letting you go.

‘You’re MY daughter,

MY daughter,

you’re mine …..and I’m never letting go’.
I hope we don’t see a repeat of the melodramatic scene from the Titanic movie where Rose promises Jack, with great conviction, ‘I’ll never let go’ ….and seconds later does exactly that…physically let’s go of him.

I realise the point is that emotionally she never lets go….and I guess that’s the truth of this matter too.
One day we may have to physically let go, but I know with great conviction that I can never emotionally let go of this child…………. who really deep down is ‘mine’’.

 

This blog is written by an experienced, anonymous foster carer. Feel free to share your thoughts in the contents below. 

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Letter to the Editor

ros-batesThousands of abused children are languishing in care for years, with many facing multiple placements and no hope of ever being reunited with abusive drug-addicted parents.

Recent changes in New South Wales and Victoria have seen time limits placed on deadbeat parents to get their act together before alternate permanent placement orders are considered for abused children.
Latest child safety data in Queensland shows in the last 12 months more than 430 children who exited care had been there for 5 years or more with 85 of those having 10 or more carers in that time.
Abused children deserve better than languishing in care on a hope that someday their parents may get their act together or kick the drugs. 
Labor’s embattled Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman is happy to give kids back to drug addict parents so long as they submit to “mandatory” testing.
As a community we have to ask “When is enough, enough?” and give these vulnerable kids a loving, safe and stable home life in which to grow up.
Drugs and alcohol are the biggest issue affecting dysfunctional families and we shouldn’t be making excuses for useless parents at the expense of an innocent child.
It’s time we ensured the best interests of a child are upheld and not trampled on by a failed policy of reunifying broken families at all costs.
ROS BATES MP
Shadow Minister for Child Safety
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Removed

Hi All,

We can’t go past this great, realistic and emotive resource, Removed. Here is the clip we have featured before on our Facebook page, additionally the creators have made the second part, Remember My Story, which is just as important to watch. If you have not watched this before, please take the time to step into the life of a child that enters care. To often we look at a child’s story through adult eyes and agendas, here is a rare opportunity to watch the life of foster care through the eyes of a child.

Click on the link to watch,

Removed

Remember My Story