Pip isn’t sure where the desire to work as a nurse came from, but it has been there for a long time.
With the sweet scent of fresh raspberries in the air on the family farm in Northern Tasmania, six-year-old Pip would dive daily into her well-stocked dress-up box and picture herself in her future role as a nurse.
Picking berries with her brother and two sisters seems a long way from the Emergency and Intensive Care Units she worked in for 15 years, but the importance of caring and family remains strong.
Pip and husband Eugene have been foster carers with MacKillop Family Services (MacKillop) for 12 months.
With well over 45 000 children and young people in Australia living away from their birth families in any given year, the need for foster carers has never been greater.
MacKillop provides support for foster carers in Victoria, NSW and WA.
At MacKillop we believe that every child deserves the best. Our foster carers provide a safe and caring home for children for as long as they need support. This can be respite care for just a few nights or one weekend every month or longer-term care for children who cannot live safely in their own homes.
As Pip and Eugene’s children, Sebastian and Isabelle, became more independent, they started to think about foster care.
They decided the time was right to contact MacKillop and go to a foster care information session.
A year on from that conversation, after a comprehensive accreditation process and training programme, the family welcomed their first foster child into their home. Four-year-old Stephanie* stayed for a month before returning to her birth family prior to Christmas in 2021.
After taking in another five children over the first half of 2022, in a mix of weekend respite visits and several short-term care placements, two-month old Tahlia* arrived in August.
With medical challenges including a recently corrected cardiac condition, feeding difficulties requiring a naso-gastic tube and severe obstructive sleep apnoea, Pip knew she was well equipped to provide the level of care Tahlia required.
“My nursing skills have been a great help in looking after Tahlia, but we also get support from medical professionals and MacKillop. It is amazing to see how well she is responding to our care. I know she will continue to thrive and we feel so lucky to be a part of her life when she needs us most.
Pip says talking together as a family helps her children understand why kids need safe and nurturing homes for a short period of time.
“As we talk with Sebastian and Isabelle about the children who have left our home, we also get them thinking of the next child to come – we focus on building that excitement again. Who are we going to be able to help next?
The foster caring experience has been good for Pip and her family in other ways.
As part of the comprehensive support provided by MacKillop’s case management team, Pip has taken up learning opportunities which will both help her in her role as a foster carer and also open up new career opportunities.
“I have just enrolled in the Australian Childhood Foundation’s Grad Cert in Developmental Trauma next year. With my nursing background and a new interest in the impact of trauma in children, who knows where that will take me?”
One thing Pip does know is that the foster caring journey she and her family are on will be fulfilling and rewarding.
“We have been surprised at how our kids have embraced being part of a foster care family. They are a great help when it comes to helping children settle into our home. Often it’s kind little gestures like sitting down and playing with young kids who are unsure or wary of a new situation.
“I’m so proud of how thoughtful they are and how they understand we are making a huge difference to a child’s life when they need it most.”
Pip encourages her colleagues to make the call, like she did, just to find out more.
She also wants people to know that as carers they never feel they are on their own.
“MacKillop is great at looking after us so we can look after the kids in our care.”
Find out more
If you would like to know more about foster caring with MacKillop, get in touch with us for a no-obligation chat on 1300 791 677.
Alternatively, go to Become a Foster Carer | MacKillop Family Services to find out more, make an online enquiry, or register for one of our online information sessions.
*names changed to protect privacy