Open hearts, open home rewarded
LETTING children know that the world is, in fact, a nice place to be is perhaps the greatest gift that foster carers Natalie and Paul Upshall give the children temporarily in their care.
Paul and Natalie were one of eight Queensland families presented with Foster and Kinship Carer Excellence Awards for their outstanding contribution to the state’s most vulnerable children and young people.
Providing a roof over their heads, meals on the table and a safe haven for some 11 children in the three and a half years they have been foster carers is something the couple planned on doing when they were first married 25 years ago.
“We wanted to have our own children first,” Paul said.
When their children were in their late teens they were ready to accept foster children into their home.
The Upshalls presently look after a young boy and he has grown from strength to strength.
They also take in children on a short term or emergency basis.
Consistency and solid boundaries are important, Paul says.
“You don’t say ‘yes’ to one and ‘no’ to another. You let them know there is a routine, that we will always be there and always care.”
Often foster carers receive very little information on the youngsters that come to them.
Reasons as to why they need care will range from some very sad cases to perhaps a need to give a parent some short term respite.
He says it’s important not to pry and to not be judgemental.
“We let them know that the world is a nice place to be. It is certainly a challenge but we love doing it ... we can see the rewards – the winners at the end of the day are children.”