Fostering family ties

Pic of Erin and Chris Collard and their daughters: at the front is Hannah (4); Laila (6) and Georgia (11). Photo by Damjan Janevski.

By Jessica Micallef

Sunbury residents Erin and Chris Collard have a happy family – so they’re all set to spread the love.

They last year decided to become foster carers. Ms Collard said the choice to foster a child came easily.

“We had been thinking about becoming foster carers for many years,” she said.

She said a billboard she saw one night while driving home, advertising an information session, was the final nudge they needed.

“I came home and said to Chris, ‘Our girls are happy, they’ve got a really good life and we’ve got room for an extra person in the house’ – so we inquired and went from there,” she said.

They were officially approved as foster carers in November after going through rigourous training with MacKillop Family Services.

“The accreditation process was really interesting and in-depth,” Ms Collard said.

“There are initial interviews, then you do full days of training.

“You go through all the different modules about foster care and then they come to your home … Then it’s all put into a massive report and that’s presented to a panel.

“We’re accredited for emergency respite, short and long-term care, so it can be anywhere from overnight to two years – it just depends on the needs of the child.”

Ms Collard said foster care offered several options.

“You don’t have to have a full-time commitment,” she said. “You can be single or you can be married, you can be de facto, you can be in a same-sex relationship.

“If you are thinking of becoming a foster carer, we urge you to give an agency like MacKillop Family Services a call.