UPA Youth Care recently held a fantastic dinner and entertainment night to celebrate and honour the foster carers in our area who do amazing work every day.
On the night, 59 adults and 34 children and young people attended, feasting on a beautiful meal and enjoying activities and live music.
Aiden Thomas is the Program Manager for UPA Youth Care Services. His work with Indigenous youth earned him the Kids in Community award for Mentoring at risk youth. Aiden has worked in the Community Services Field for 20 years, in many varied roles including being a Foster Carer himself for 5 years.
“It is so important to recognise the amazing work and support the carers provide to the foster children,” said Aiden. “It’s a great opportunity to get together and showcase the work everybody does, and to connect with other likeminded people.”
It is estimated that there are now 43,000 children in out-of-home care in Australia, and that’s more than doubled since 1990. Unfortunately, due to laws and regulations that currently seriously limit adoption numbers (just 278 children were adopted in Australia last year), it’s more important than ever that there are willing and able carers who are available to protect these children and give them a foster home.
Aiden hopes that UPA Youth Care will be able to achieve their goal of recruiting a further fifty carer households, and then provide care to 100 children and young people this coming year.
UPA Youth Care commenced operations twenty years ago with Jeff McDonald as Program Manager (Jeff announced his upcoming retirement at the dinner), with a contract from the department for just 9.23 children. Back then, they operated with just two staff members and the name, “Kids in Care”.
This twentieth year of operation sees UPA Youth Care with an agreement from the department for 68 young people and 13 staff.
“When UPA Youth Care first began, we were the first non-government Foster Care Agency on the Far North Coast. When accreditation of agencies was first legislated, we were the first agency on the Far North Coast and the seventh in the state to achieve this outcome. We were also the first agency in the state to achieve our latest accreditation under new standards,” said Aiden.
“This is because we put the children at the centre of everything we do. Always. We want to help them be all they can be and that’s our message to anyone considering becoming a Carer. It can be both a challenging and highly rewarding experience, and can change somebody’s entire world.”
UPA Youth Care consider their Carers and children ‘family’ and that’s why they hold events, such as the recent Carer’s dinner, to bring everyone together in a setting and atmosphere that’s different, and more relaxed than usual.