Foster children who stay with John and Verity Wolfenden not only a receive a safe place to live: they also learn a new skill.
For over three years, John and Verity have welcomed foster children into their home for respite, emergency, and short term stays. Children from ages 2 to 18, individuals and siblings, one night, a month, a year: John and Verity have had them all through their doors.
“No two situations are the same, so you have to learn to be flexible,” Verity said. The family has started taking on foster children for longer term stays, a move Verity said was prompted by the need for carers to take on teenagers, something that can be challenging at times. “There’s such a great need for carers, so in the circumstances we thought we would trial it for 12 months,” she said.
“I work full time so my husband puts in a lot of effort to look after the children and having them attend appointments such as medical, dental, speech therapy and counselling to name but a few,” Verity said.
“Having him free during the day makes it much easier, especially for the little ones.”
Two teenagers have been with Verity for almost a year. One will transition to independent living when she turns 18, while Verity hopes the 16 year old will stay with them until he too turns 18.
“He has fitted in to our household really well and is easy to care for. He is really happy with us and hopefully he will soon be joined by another teenager,” Verity said.
Verity said she wasn’t a babysitter but she does have a strict ‘no technology’ rule for the littlies, the activities they get to participate in make up for it. “I was trying to decide something special I could offer the children. I’m a sewer and thought ‘why don’t we do that together?’ It’s a skill I can share and no matter their age they always enjoy getting involved,” Verity said.
“For the children who stay a few months, I try to make them a small patchwork quilt for them to take with them and all of them get to sew a pillowcase. The little ones get to choose their fabrics while older ones can make it themselves.” Often the children opt to make items for their mum, and are understandably proud of their achievement.
“Our 16 year old boy chose to make a tiger cushion for his mum. He designed it and learnt how to applique, it was really beautiful,” Verity said. “They all love the dogs too, they seem to be really good therapy for kids. They’ll go play, throw the ball or just cuddle up to them.”
Article from the Armidale Express, 30 March 2017.