The importance of maintaining a child’s connection to their cultural heritage, language and religion while in foster care should not be underestimated.
During NSW Foster Care week, September 14-21, Manager of Multicultural Foster Care Service (MFCS) Mr Ghassan Noujaim, hopes to highlight the important work of the services’ foster carers in helping maintain cultural connections.
“Our foster carers are incredible in their dedication to and support of keeping cultural links for their foster children,” said Mr Noujaim.
MFCS was established by Settlement Services International (SSI) in 2013. The service operates according to the principle that children in Out-of-Home Care who are supported to learn about and maintain a connection to teir culture, religion and language have better outcomes as they grow and develop than those who are not supported in this way.
“Being able to communicate in the child’s first language, and maintaining their cultural traditions helps children understand where they have come from and helps them develop their sense of belonging and identity in their new foster care arrangement.”
MFCS currently supports 79 children, 67 of whom are with families from the same cultural background.
Mr Noujaim said foster carers who did not share the same cultural heritage as their foster children were supported in activities such as learning to cook culturally familiar meals for them, and connecting with local services that offer activities such as storytelling and games in other languages.
The MFCS is the first of its kind in NSW to develop and deliver a culturally appropriate model of Out-of-Home Care for children and young people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds. MFCS currently operates in Sydney and Newcastle.
The MFCS is staffed by bilingual managers and case workers with cross cultural and Out-of-Home Care casework skills and knowledge, who are committed to helping the service achieve positive outcomes and experiences for its foster carers and the children and young people they support.
“With bilingual and bicultural support provided to foster carers, the majority of foster children have formed better and more positive connections with their birth parents and families since being with the MCFS.”
“While we have a strong focus on recruiting foster carers from CALD backgrounds, we like to hear from anyone with a genuine interest in providing safe and caring homes for children in care, in particular siblings, and ensuring that their cultural connections are maintained.”
MFCS works closely with culturally specific and mainstream community organisations and community leaders, women’s groups, religious organisations and other relevant sector services in the recruitment and support of its CALD foster carers.
For more information visit https://www.multiculturalfostercare.ssi.org.au/
Monday September 15, 2014
SSI Online Communications Coordinator, Callan Lawrence, 0478 156 491 or 02 8799 6746
SSI Communications Officer, Rekha Sanghi, 0422 304 578