There’s nothing more special than watching a child run into a parent’s arms, after being separated for a period of time. That moment when a smile appears on a child’s face and they become giddy with excitement as their mum or dad gives them kisses and hugs.
For Sharon and Craig, this is their daily experience. As Contact Supervisors for Wesley Keeping Connected, these trained professionals are the connection point for children and young people, who are temporarily living in foster care, to visit their families.
Every week, Sharon and Craig can drive up to 1,000 kilometres and cover distances from Sydney, to the Blue Mountains and Newcastle, to transport children in foster care to spend time with their families. But they are more than just drivers. They’re a friend who cares about the child’s interests. They’re a listening ear when a young person needs to talk. And, most importantly, they’re someone the children can trust and rely on.
A typical day starts with picking up a child from their foster carer’s house. Sometimes Sharon and Craig can each have up to three young people at one time. Depending on the age of the child, which can range from a newborn up to 15-year-olds, Sharon will have a Wiggles or Frozen soundtrack or their favourite radio station ready for the road trip.
Sharon and Craig spend long periods of time in the car with a young person, as their foster carer often won’t live close to their family. This time in the car is pivotal to having a positive impact on young people’s lives.
Throughout the visit with the children or young person’s family, Craig and Sharon explain that it’s their job to ensure they are always safe. Whether they are taking a child on a field trip or spending time at their family’s home, protecting them is their top priority.
Ultimately, the long-term goal is to restore these children to their families. Sharon, who has worked for Wesley Keeping Connected for the last five years, says she feels privileged to have been part of many family restorations.
While not every child is restored to their family through Wesley Keeping Connected, Sharon wholeheartedly believes in the success of the program.