A Frankston woman has opened her heart and home to over 300 foster children across 32 years, as she believes every child deserves a chance in life.
Helen Fox, 60, began helping young people in need after registering with OzChild in 1987, and is now eligible to take on up to five children at a time.
“Some [children stay] overnight, some for weeks, some for years,” she said. “The longest placement has been 17 years.”
Fox was inspired to become a foster parent after discovering a close school friend was adopted.
Starting out as a single mother with one son, she fostered her first child through OzChild when aged just 28.
More than three decades later, she continues to nurture and steer troubled lives in the right direction.
“I like to think that me and my family have given a lot of kids a good grounding in life to success. We do see a few kids that come visit us now as teenagers and they are doing very well.”
This is not always the case however, as Fox states “there is so much we (foster parents) don’t agree with” regarding the foster care system.
“When the kids move on it can be quite disheartening if they are not going back to a better situation … Others have just come back into care and keep bouncing around the system, it’s sad.
“It would be good if they could return to past carers but that’s not always the case.”
Despite some of the struggles that foster families encounter, Fox understands the tough circumstances and urges other carers to stay strong and remember who the priority is.
“It’s about the kids… nurturing and safety for kids,” she said.
“We are only minders, these children are not ours, they have parents that love them who are just not sure how to [care for] them.”
Her daughter Jaimee, 24, has followed in her mother’s footsteps, recently becoming an accredited carer too in hopes of helping more children in need.
Despite 32 long years in foster care, Fox has no intention of slowing down.
“I will continue to do fostering as long as I possibly can and while there is need for carers to keep children safe,” she said.