Gemma MaraiFoster Carer Support Officer
“The common driver with our Foster Carers is they want to support a child who hasn’t had the easiest start in life. Everyone has the heart to give a child in need the opportunities in life they deserve,” says MercyCare Foster Carer Support Officer Gemma Marai.
For those interested in becoming a MercyCare Foster Carer, Gemma is the first voice they’ll hear at the other end of the phone and the first person they’ll meet on their journey.
For Gemma, what makes a great Foster Carer is respect, patience, good listening skills, an openness to learn and develop, flexibility and adaptability. The most important factor though, is to have the child’s best interest at heart.
“I always tell our Foster Carers they should never feel their fostering journey is something they are doing on their own. They always have the support of the MercyCare Fostering team. That’s really important to us because there are challenges with fostering but at the same time there is so much fulfilment.
“Knowing I am providing that support and I’m always there for them is satisfying in itself, but like our Foster Carers, knowing I’m making a difference in a child’s life brings an enormous amount of satisfaction.”
Gemma contacts every person that makes an enquiry to the MercyCare Fostering team.
“I am guided by each enquiry, from people that have just started thinking about fostering to those that have thought about it for years and have done their research and attended information nights. It’s about understanding what information they need and how I can help,” she says.
“If they are at the initial thought process of ‘I’d like to know a little more about fostering’, that’s when I provide as much information as I can and answer as many questions as they have. It’s important to answer all the questions right at the beginning regardless of what stage people are at in their research on deciding to foster.”
While MercyCare Foster Carers come from diverse backgrounds and situations – from couples to singles; parents with biological children or those with children that have flown the nest; younger to older and everything in between – their common goal is to make a difference in a child’s life.
For the MercyCare Fostering team, pairing a child with the right Foster Carers for them is critical. During the application process future Foster Carers list their preferences to ensure placements suit both child and carer within a positive and stable home environment.