Featherston foster parent Tina Williams. PHOTO/BECKIE WILSON

BECKIE WILSON

beckie.wilson@age.co.nz

When Tina Williams signed up to become a foster parent she never knew what the following two years would bring.

Since September 2015, Ms Williams has had five young children through her welcoming door since becoming a certified caregiver through, the then, Child Youth and Family, in September 2015.

Every placement was so different, the Featherston woman said.

The first child she cared for was a 14-month-old baby girl who was taken from a violent family in Wairarapa, and put in Ms William’s care on her 30th birthday.

“She was so confident, and was with me for four months,” she said.

The baby came into her home with nothing except a Foster Hope backpack with some vital items to get through the first night.

Ms Williams also had a three-month-old and a five-year-old stay with her separately over a couple of months.

Now, she is the permanent caregiver to two siblings, a two-and-a-half-year-old boy and an one-year old girl.

The boy was bought to her to when he was nine months old.

He was just 10 days old when he was put in foster care.

“The reason he got uplifted was because he got injured badly enough he needed to go to hospital, and a lot of these kids are just not being noticed,” she said.

Ms Williams, originally from Upper Hutt, was told by the social worker at the time that his placement with her could be ‘placement for life’, which gave her time to prepare.

When he was 16 months old, his biological mother gave birth to his younger sister.

Due to concerns around the welfare of the baby, the girl was taken and put in her care last December, she said.

Ms Williams she it was a great feeling knowing she was looking after two siblings that could have had a different life if they were not removed from their previous home.

In 2015, Ms Williams had moved back to New Zealand from Virginia, USA, after five years working as a full-time nanny.

She came to Featherston in May that year.

Ms William’s became a Porse educator when the oldest sibling was put in her care, and stopped when his sister was put in her care to focus on bringing them up.

She “loved working with kids” so I sent an email to CYF appyling to be a foster parent.

It was an easier process than she thought which included a couple of meetings, training days and a home check.

She originally signed up as a respite and transitional caregiver.

“I think the most difficult part of fostering is it is so uncertain, you never know when a child will come or how long they will be with you, because the social workers can give you a plan but things don’t always go to plan,” she said.

Ms Williams is not yet the legal parent of the two young children, court proceedings may take a while longer until it is confirmed.

She said she had always wanted to become a foster parent.

“I feel like I would love everyone to think about fostering, I think if everyone was capable of fostering did it, it would fix a lot of what is going on with problems around child welfare.”

It was not just about finding new permanent homes for children, but to help parents out for short periods of time, she said.

“It’s definitely the best thing I ever did, even if I didn’t have these two, it’s still the best thing ever… it’s pretty life changing.”

The ministry provides caregivers financial support to help cover some costs such as food and clothing.

For more information on becoming a caregiver, contact Oranga Tamariki on 0508 227 377.