Edition 1, 2022
Building a loving home
Family life is what Nicole and Gerald are all about. With kids and grandkids of their own, Nicole and Gerald share their home as Wesley Dalmar foster carers to three children.
Fostering for 26 years now, the couple believes that fostering is rewarding because it gives children a chance at a healthy and happy childhood.
“When a child comes into foster placement, it gives them back their childhood. They don’t have to worry, and they don’t have to fear,” Nicole says.
“All of a sudden, the weight of the world is off their shoulders, and they know what love is.”
When asked what motivates them to foster, Nicole and Gerald said they’re grateful to help kids develop their self-esteem.
“A proud moment for me is when I see kids stand straight and have self-esteem,” says Nicole. “Instead of hiding behind you, they stand up straight and say hello to people and think, ‘Oh, I’ve got it!’”
Gerald continues, “These children didn’t have a good life, and to be able to care for them and show them what a good childhood means makes an awful lot of difference to me.”
Growing up, Gerald was an only child. It wasn’t until he married Nicole that he realised how rewarding it is to have a big family.
“I realised what I was missing with the amount of siblings Nicole had, and since we’ve been foster caring with all the children, I just love having kids around!”
For Nicole, being a foster carer runs deep in her family. She said her parents and her grandparents were both foster carers before her. Now, her daughter carries on her legacy and has decided to care for two children of her own.
Nicole says that fostering has no barriers and that anyone can consider themselves a foster carer.
“Anyone can be a foster carer. You don’t have to be married. You can be older or younger – as long as you know that you like children and one day, you might even love them!”
Similarly, Gerald adds, “It’s just being that someone who cares for children, looks after them and keeps them safe. Anybody can do it.”
For those considering foster care, Nicole says, “Do it and just make that phone call. You won’t be held in judgment if you decide against it further down the track. But make that phone call. You won’t believe how many children you can help.”
*Names have been changed to protect privacy.
Every year, children and young people in our programs contribute artwork for the Wesley Dalmar calendar. This year’s theme was community, connection and belonging.
Jayson’s incredible drawing was inspired by the owls that visit his backyard in the evenings. We’re so grateful he’s now in this safe, loving home with his foster carer.
Vamil’s four, and he loves going for walks with his foster carer. His drawing is of them looking at the beautiful flowers in their neighbourhood.
Despite the distance, Sommer, 13, enjoys chatting with her new neighbours from time to time. Lily-Mae is the same age, and she loves anime and drawing people.
Foster care is a journey that starts with the first step.
It’s about giving children like Jayson, Vamil, Sommer and Lily-Mae the opportunity to experience a loving home, feel connected, and be part of a community.
Is there room in your heart and your home to care for a child like them? Connect with Wesley Dalmar today to start the conversation about how you can change a child’s life.
Getting to know you…
What’s your role and what do you do day-to-day?
“I’m the Operations Manager for Wesley Dalmar Out-of-Home Care (OOHC) in the Hunter-Central Coast region. I oversee OOHC programs in Gosford, Tuggerah and Maitland that care for around 200 children each night. I also oversee the Newcastle Hub, where we link community members to the services they need. I see my main role as helping staff to feel safe and valued in the workplace, so they can grow and thrive.”
How long have you worked at Wesley Mission?
“I’ve worked at Wesley Mission for 23 years.”
Why have you stayed with Wesley Mission for so long?
“I’ve stayed with Wesley Mission because I’m constantly growing and enjoying new challenges. There’s so much opportunity that my career has always been eventful and fulfilling. I believe wholeheartedly that wherever I am, in whatever role, is where I’m supposed to be and that everything happens for a reason. I’m exactly where I’m meant to be.”
What do you do to relax?
“For the last four years I’ve loved creating and caring for bonsai. I have 82 trees to date and truly can’t stop adding to my collection. I enjoy the challenge of making a bonsai because you can easily see short-term gains in new shoots each season, as well as the harder, long-term achievements as the trees mature, take shape and grow.”
Fact or fiction?
Busting myths about foster caring
There are a lot of myths out there about what it means to become a foster carer but we’re here to help and debunk some of those myths. Read on to separate facts from fiction…
Myth #1: Foster care is a lifelong commitment
Every child or young person has different needs. There are different types of fostering to suit them, including both temporary and permanent care.
Myth #2: You can’t work and be a foster carer
No matter if, where or how you work, if you have a loving home, you can be a foster carer.
Myth #3: You can only care for one child
When you foster siblings, you give a family the chance to build a brighter future together.
Myth #4: You have to own your own home to be a foster carer
Good news for renters – as long as you have stable, safe accommodation and a loving home, you can be a foster carer.
Myth #5: The process to become a foster carer takes ages
Screening and training to become a foster carer usually takes between three and nine months, followed by a careful matching process.
Becoming a foster carer starts with one step: attending a free online information session. Head to Foster Care and adoptions – Wesley Mission to find out more.