Home for children in foster care can take on many forms, some less traditional than others.
For one young boy who regularly spent nights in a hotel room due to a lack of carers, the stability of foster care has made an incredible difference.
He is now being cared for by two Aboriginal men on a property in Western NSW.
The two men, Kodi, 37 and his partner 44 year-old Gary, say they had often contemplated fostering as both have experience working in the community services sector and were aware of the need for more carers.
It was through their sector connections that they heard of the plight of a young boy and gave further thought to the decision to become foster parents with Uniting.
Kodi is the first to be up front about his initial reluctance. In his words: “we didn’t want to further disadvantage a child through any stigma of having two dads”.
However, the opposite has proven to be the case for their young charge who sees it as an advantage to have two male role models in his life where previously there were none.
“Gary and I talked about it and while we had always considered becoming carers, we had never acted on it. We went through the assessment process and it’s the best decision we made,” he beams.
“It was initially meant to be an emergency care placement, but we all connected so it just made sense to continue as a long-term option.”
Kodi and Gary have now been carers for three years, providing the boy with his most secure placement yet.
The three of them live on a 50 acre property which they share with three dogs, seven horses and 30 head of sheep.
“And between us all we share three different faiths and still manage to live in harmony” Kodi joked.
Kodi is Catholic, Gary is a Jehovah Witness and, in line with the wishes of his family, their non-Aboriginal foster son is being raised as a Seventh Day Adventist.
“At the end of the day, what really matters is that kids have a consistent, safe and secure place to call home,” he said.
“Sure, it can be challenging at times, but it is also incredibly rewarding and there is always plenty of support if we need it,” he reflects.
The rewards of foster care are the subject of an information session to be held in Dubbo on 20 November at 12pm.
People interested in finding out more about becoming a foster carer should contact the Uniting Carer Recruitment Team in Dubbo on 6885 5010 or visit uniting.org/fostercare.