by Michaela Meade
Hume residents are being encouraged to consider becoming foster carers for young people aged up to 21 years old.
Settlement Services International is looking for foster carers for children and young adults from culturally diverse backgrounds.
The organisation works to place children back into the community after they have been removed from their homes.
Community engagement and case manager Anasina Gray-Barberio said the organisation wanted to spread the word about its work.
“We’re in the process of raising and boosting awareness in the community as to what foster caring is, what’s involved, and why families in the community should become foster carers,” Mrs Gray-Barberio said.
“When people in the community see and hear about others doing it, they’re more likely to trust the process.
“There’s so much misinformation [and] stigma around foster caring. Our kids don’t belong in the system, they belong in the community.”
SSI partnered with the Victorian government’s Department of Health and Human Services last year to develop its new multicultural foster care program, which aims to meet the unique needs of culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
The organisation said the program is a specialist out-of-home care service which aims to maintain bonds of ethnic backgrounds, religion, and language when placing children into foster care.
According to SSI, Victoria has over 11,000 children unable to live with their birth parents, and 15 per cent of those are from CALD backgrounds.
Multicultural foster care program manager Francoise Le Gall said SSI has been meeting with community leaders to raise awareness about foster care.
“We are needing families to assist us in the placement of children from all culturally diverse backgrounds in out of home care,” Ms Le Gall said.
“While we’ve had quite a lot of interest, we’ve got a way to go as far as recruitment of carers for our program.”