Grant Recipient Snapshot: the Benevolent Society

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With support from Aurora Group, and as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Benevolent Society will be hosting information events for GLBT community members to learn more about becoming foster carers.

The Benevolent Society has been helping people and communities out of disadvantage for nearly 200 years. Its goal is to bring about lasting change for people to overcome the barriers that prevent them from participating fully in society. At the heart of this work is the safety, wellbeing and resilience of children and families. Through service delivery, research and evaluation, and innovation, The Benevolent Society aims to create caring and inclusive communities and a just society.

Its Fostering Young Lives Program finds safe and nurturing homes for children aged 0-18 who cannot live at home. Through the program general foster carers are recruited, trained and supported to meet foster children’s ongoing physical, social and emotional needs. Kin carers are also supported by Fostering Young Lives across the metropolitan Sydney area.

The Benevolent Society recognises that there are a number of misconceptions around whether GLBT people can become foster carers,in large part due to the confusion between adoption and fostering.

They are also aware that it may be difficult for some members of the GLBT community to approach an agency with a query about fostering, or attend an open information night, particularly if they have met with a negative response from agencies in the past.

To address some of these misconceptions and to facilitate an opportunity for the GLBT community  to learn more about how to become foster carers The Benevolent Society, with thanks to financial support from Aurora group, will be hosting information events through 2012 specifically for interested GLBT people.

The events will be held in established gay-friendly venues, and will provide a relaxed, pleasant and inclusive environment for members of the community to ask questions, hear stories, address concerns and seek information about becoming a foster carer.

The first of these events is scheduled on 21st Feb 2012 at Riverside Theatre in Parramatta, 7-9pm. Those keen to attend should contact Stacy Power on stacyp@bensoc.org.au. Look out for promotion of this event in GLBT press and online and through Riverside Theatre at their QueerScreen event.

A second event will be held in the CBD in July/August – further details to follow.

The Benevolent Society approach to foster care is that all kinds of people can provide safe, nurturing homes for children who are not able to live with their birth parents. 20 % of foster carers through The Benevolent Society’s Fostering Young Lives program identify as being gay or lesbian, demonstrating that a person’s potential to be a foster carer is not determined by their sexuality any more than it is by their marital status, age, gender or nationality. Fostering Young Lives wants to break down barriers that have traditionally excluded people from being considered as foster carers. One of the key messages is “All kinds of kids need all kinds of carers”.