Children who are part of MercyCare’s family group homes or fostering services are unable to live with their families due to circumstances which have caused harm, such as abuse and neglect, or because families are unable to raise children consistently and safely, due to family illness or loss.
The First Time Ever Fund creates experiences that builds children's confidence, their good memories, their bonds with their foster families or carers and because of this, their expectations of a great future.
Almost always these are ‘first time ever’ experiences – the kind that you might remember from your childhood, or the sorts of things you have made happen for your own children. Joyful experiences used therapeutically to develop potential.
Your donation will go to different customised experiences for individuals or groups, including taking Aboriginal children in care back to country.
So far highlights have included:
First Time Ever Camps – More Than Just Their First Ever Holiday
Many of the children have never been on holiday or outside the metropolitan area. First Time Ever Fund began with running small group camps in South West WA. More recently, children from family group homes enjoyed a camp much further afield in Kalbarri where they went snorkelling, fishing, horse riding and spent time with local Aboriginal people who taught them about the local area, bush tucker and culture. Case workers on both trips said one of the best outcomes was seeing the children so relaxed and happy. This is a big achievement for children who have come from trauma, and something that enables a deeper level of connection and communication with their peers and staff.
WASO Cushion Concerts for Budding Musicians
Young children were introduced to music via puppets and presenters getting them to clap, sing and dance their way through stories and songs. There were some, well-known favourites, some famous classics and some new surprises. At the end they met both musicians and instruments in the Have-A-Go session nurturing the next generation of musicians.
Voices In Action – Young People Finding Their Voice and Giving Back
As they become adults at 18, young people in foster care leave the system to become independent, although many remain part of their foster care family. One young woman, now 19 and still with her foster family, was funded to attend an international conference called Voices in Action where young people in care shared experiences and had their voices heard on improving the system. ‘First Time Ever Fund’ hopes to also fund her next conference where she is keen to mentor a group of young people in similar circumstances.
A Room with a Zoo – Full-on Zoo Experience and Meeting Place for Foster Families
All children in foster care, siblings and children of the foster care families came together for an all-in zoo day, which was a first experience for most of the children. After a catered picnic and face painting, the children got up close with the animals, including a hands on experience with three resident reptiles and handlers. The picnic was also a great time for foster parents to connect with each other and have some relaxation time out with all the children.