The two and a half years that Ronnie* has cared for now 13-year-old Kaisey and her younger brothers Rory and Harry has been a rocky but rewarding learning experience for all.
Ronnie remarks that the hardest part of her journey as a kinship carer wasn’t the children but the pressures of navigating an unknown system on her own. In the early days of caring for Kaisey and her brothers, Ronnie almost gave up altogether but found her feet again with the support of Kylie from My Forever Family NSW.
She says, “Going into this I had no idea about the system and while I fought very hard to keep the kids together it was challenging. Without Kylie from My Forever Family NSW I would have relinquished care. Kylie would just break everything down in a non-judgmental and empathetic way. She explained all these new rules and regulations in a way that way clear and made me feel confident and supported.”
Ronnie is glad she persisted and can’t image life without Kaisey and her brothers as part of her family unit. In the relatively short two years of caring for Kaisey and her brothers she’s noticed a marked difference in the eldest sibling. Noting she was able to observe Kaisey’s growth under her care, something that isn’t as stark when caring for a younger child.
“I quickly noticed the positive changes in her, she was quite reserved and now she plays team sports and has made friends at school. It’s been wonderful to be able to guide a young person on creating healthy boundaries, modelling social skills and watching their self-confidence grow. People are surprised at what a vibrant young person she is now, that was always there she just needed a leg up. We’ve been very lucky to be able to provide that for her.”
Just as she has supported Kaisey in finding her feet, Ronnie feels passionate about helping other carers find theirs. “Kylie helped me plan for family conferences and advised me on what to ask to get the best outcomes for the children in my care. I want to share my story so other carers know that there is support and resources out there and to not give up,” she concludes.
*Names have been changed.