By Alesha Capone
Kiera Kauler says that patience and understanding are two important qualities for foster carers to have.
The 23-year-old, who entered Victoria’s foster care system at three months of age, lived in about 50 different homes – including in the western suburbs – before her 18th birthday.
With Foster Care Week running until Sunday, Anglicare Victoria has issued an “urgent” plea for new foster carers.
Chief executive Paul McDonald said the situation was “dire” with thousands of young people needing care.
Ms Kauler said foster carers needed to understand that many young people have complex needs and a traumatic background.
“I think foster carers need to take into account that many kids are learning things for the first time, such as what is right and wrong, what a healthy relationship is,” she said.
She said it was challenging for children to adapt to a new home and set of strangers each time they had to move.
“One second you think everything is fine, then next thing all your stuff is being dragged out in garbage bags, or you have nothing because they keep your stuff,” she said.
“I had a lot of trouble trusting people.”
While growing up, Ms Kauler she was very protective of her brother, who has cerebral palsy and an intellectual disability.
“We landed in a very abusive home and I was always focused on trying to protect him,” Ms Kauler said.
She was once made to sleep in a closet by her foster carers.
On a more positive note, Ms Kauler said there were “a couple of families I actually adored” from her time in foster care, including a single, gay man she lived with for about three years as a teenager.
“He is still my dad to this day – he is gorgeous and I love him,” she said.
Details: anglicarevic.org.au/fostering or 1800 809 722.