For school teacher Julia, foster caring came naturally

New role: School teacher Julia Koeller, a school teacher at Danebank School, decided to become a foster carer. Julia does not fit the traditional image of a foster carer in that she is single, young and has no family of her own. Picture: John Veage
New role: School teacher Julia Koeller, a school teacher at Danebank School, decided to become a foster carer. Julia does not fit the traditional image of a foster carer in that she is single, young and has no family of her own. Picture: John Veage

As a school teacher, Julia Koeller was experienced in dealing with children.

But when she wanted to take her teaching experience a step further and become a foster carer, she wondered whether she was qualified.

“For a time, I thought only a certain type of person could care for children in need,” said Julia, 34, who teaches at Danebank Hurstville and lives in Sutherland Shire.

“I was single. I didn’t have my own family. But I had been thinking about fostering for a number of years,” she said.

Caring for children as a foster carer was something she thought only married people with families or retiree couples do.

“I wanted to help children who needed the care; to show them what a loving family can be like,” she said.

“Then I heard an ad saying all you needed to be a foster carer was a desire to look after vulnerable children and a spare room.”

Julia had just bought her own place with an extra room, and suddenly the prospect of looking after children became viable.

“I decided to find out more about fostering and gave Anglicare a call,” Julia said.

Julia decided to do a training course with Anglicare in fostering caring.

It was then she realised there were many different types of foster caring options.

“It wasn’t always about emergency care or long term placements. They offered weekend and holiday respite options as well, which was perfect for me,” she said.

Anglicare Sydney is calling for people in Sydney to consider becoming foster carers. The independent Christian Non-Profit organisation is looking to rapidly expand its network of carers to look after more children in need of care.

More than 17,500 children and young people in NSW are unable to live with their own families parents due to abuse, neglect or significant risk of harm.

“Our team responds to new referral requests every day and is concerned by cases where young children are being cared for by case workers in hotel rooms due to a lack of other foster carer options,” says Catherine Stephenson, Anglicare Out of Home Care Manager.

Julia was approved to become a foster carer in July last year. Since then she has had two different placements.

One child was seven weeks old and the other was an eight-year-old child whose family needed some respite once a month.

“I have had no major difficulties so far. The children have been easy going and happy. The only challenge has been adjusting to new routines, but I am still able to go out for coffee with friends while caring for the children.”

“Each child has its own case worker and you can always talk to them. They are there to help.

“I also found my training as a teacher to be helpful. I could use behavioural strategies and communicate with my foster child at their level. A lot of fostering is common sense. If we’ve spent any time around kids, we soon discover how to interact with them at their level.”

Julia encourages those thinking about fostering to make that initial call to Anglicare Sydney.

“You will have to not mind having an extra person in the household. You will need to be caring, flexible,compassionate and patient.

“It’s quite rewarding looking after children, and know there are children out there who need a supportive relationship that you can provide.”

For more information about foster care contact Anglicare Sydney on 02 9890 6800.

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