I was a foster mum in the 1990s when I was making good money from my career. I’d split up with my ex and I already had a live-in nanny to help with my other kids. I had a big gap in my children’s ages and I saw an advertisement in a newspaper looking for a placement for a girl who had just turned 10. She had a history of sexual assault so they were looking for an all-female household.
Both my kids were girls and I had a female live-in nanny. I discussed it with my oldest daughter who was 13 or 14 at the time and the nanny, and called the agency.
I honestly can’t remember how much they paid, but I know it cost me more than they paid me. I didn’t mind though. Once she joined us she became one of the family. I was happy to buy clothes and toys and all the things a girl needed … including a little computer to help encourage her with writing and schoolwork etc.
Pay rates depended on which foster agency you were dealing with. It still works that way.
All these years later, my oldest daughter is currently a respite carer through a different agency. She’s been caring for a baby since it was only about one week old. I know she’s not doing it for the money. When you consider how many hours are devoted to looking after a newborn, it is a role you take on for reasons other than getting rich.
I will ask her how much they pay next time I speak with her.
I just spoke with my oldest daughter. The daily pay rate paid to foster carers for respite care for babies through the foster agency she’s with is $52 Australian dollars. That includes the baby sleeping overnight and, as you know, there’s lots of getting up and down with a newborn baby in the night. So she’s getting paid about $2 an hour. Hardly a career choice with such a low rate of pay.
As a mum, (or a mom, lol), I’m very proud of her for stepping up and becoming a foster carer. I was surprised when she told me she’d applied to be assessed as a potential carer.
Our relationship with her foster sister made a lasting impression on her. She saw what a difference our loving family environment (and the boundaries I set for her) made at the time. And she’s heard her foster sister say what a difference her time with us made long term. It is humbling and heart-warming to hear feedback (from both the girls) 20 years later.
My foster daughter was 10 when she joined our family so in many ways was more of a handful than a baby. But my eldest daughter is still recovering from a chronic medical condition so she’s not yet ready for a full-time foster placement or a tear-away pre-teen. We’ll see what the future holds though.