Just under three years ago, a scared seven-year-old girl entered the home of Liz and Bernie Basevi.
From that first moment, it was clear they were a perfect match.
Elise* was initially with the family for just 10 days of respite care, but within a few weeks, was welcomed back with open arms – and hasn’t left.
“We just all fitted together,” Mrs Basevi said.
“She’s made our life complete. We so look forward to seeing her and planning what we’re going to do with her, whereas otherwise, we wouldn’t have had this exciting little girl in our lives.
“We have three boys in their 40s and they all love her. She’s completed the family.”
As foster carers, the Malua Bay couple form part of a safety net for the more than 46,500 children across Australia unable to live at home.
In NSW, almost half of such children are in the care of foster families.
It was upon reaching retirement and with three grown children that the Basevis looked down the path of foster care.
We have three boys in their 40s and they all love her. She’s completed the family.- Liz Basevi
“We got into it to help a child. Since we’ve got most things we want in life, we felt we had something to give to somebody,” Mrs Basevi said.
“We’ve given her a good education and we’re hoping we’ve set her up so in her later years, she’ll be financially stable.
“We like to think in the future she’ll have security and be safe.”
In their time as foster parents, the Basevis have fallen so in love with Elise, they’re now going through the adoption process. As for Elise, now aged 10, – she couldn’t be more excited.
“Within weeks of her coming to us, she was calling my sisters aunties and Liz’s brothers uncles. Obviously she wanted a family and a life like every kid deserves,” Mr Basevi said.
“Everyone says how different she is since she first came to us. She was really insecure, but now she’s so much happier than she was when she first came into our care.
“Within 12 months, we’re hoping to have the adoption all signed off. (Elise) can’t wait and we can’t wait.
“She’s just as much a daughter as our sons.”
This Foster Care Week, the Basevis are encouraging everyone to consider opening their doors to children in need through emergency, short-term or long-term care.
“There’s no barriers. Anybody can foster care – a single person, a divorced person, an older person. People say they’re too old, but we’re in our 60s and we’re not too old,” Mrs Basevi said.
According to the Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies, their call couldn’t be more timely, with an estimated 660 additional foster carers needed over the coming 12 months in NSW alone.
“There is an urgent need for many more foster carers who are able to support restoration of children to their birth families, offer immediate or respite care, or move towards guardianship or open adoption of children in their care,” a spokesperson for the association said.
Children are being placed in motels as a last resort while suitable carers are found.
An estimated 660 additional foster carers needed over the coming 12 months in NSW alone.- The Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies
A 2015-2016 report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare identified the need for new carers as a national priority.
In the meantime, the Basevis hope further investment in mental health and support services in general will alleviate pressures on the system.
“There should be more support services for parents that need help and we wouldn’t have as many kids needing foster care,” Mr Basevi said.
“It’s extra trauma for the child. It can be bad enough if there’s problems at home. That’s where the respite and foster carers can come into their own.”
*Name has been changed.
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