Eight years ago, foster carer Penny Hallett’s desire for equal opportunities for all children saw her dedicate her life to providing care.
Inspired by her experience as a volunteer for The Pyjama Foundation, Penny and her husband began to explore the idea of becoming foster carers.
In 2008, Penny’s journey began when she was matched with a young boy in care through the Foundation’s Love of Learning Program – together they played educational games, read stories, built confidence and set the child up to be much more than what life had given him.
Penny went on to mentor another young girl, where she met a foster carer who had cared for children for over 40 years and inspired Penny to explore becoming a carer herself.
In 2011, Penny and her family embarked on the process and became full time foster carers.
This Foster and Kinship Carer Week we celebrate the wonderful people in our community just like Penny, opening up their hearts and homes for children in out of home care.
“As a volunteer with The Pyjama Foundation, you are able to form a positive relationship and encourage a love of learning,” she said.
“We would read books together, sometimes we would go outside and enact the stories that sparked their imagination, or just jump on the trampoline and laugh a lot.
“The children I mentored and have in my home have the most heart wrenching stories, but you know what, they just get on with it.
“Apart from all the ‘mum things’, I see my role as a Foster Carer as being my kids advocate until they can do that for themselves.
“I can’t imagine my life not being involved with kids in care, and I am grateful for the lifelong friendships I have made with other carers and all the wonderful staff at The Pyjama Foundation.”
Child Safety Minister Di Farmer congratulated Penny on her support for children in care, both as a Pyjama Angel and now as a foster carer.
“The men and women who volunteer to be foster carers are some of the kindest and most caring I’ve met,” she said.
“Penny has given some children who need some love and support her time, care and attention both as a Pyjama Angel, then as a foster carer.
“Penny’s opened her heart, and then her home. You really can’t underestimate just how life changing that kind of support can be to the children who are looked after by our carers.”
The number of children in the out of home care system continues to rise in Australia, with more than 9,000 children currently in foster and kinship care in Queensland.
Foster and Kinship Carer Week runs from 21-28 April and aims to celebrate and thank people like Penny for their continued work in ensuring the most vulnerable children have a loving place to call home.