Lifetime of caring passes in the blink of an eye | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey

Narelle Poulsen was farewelled in a retirement celebration at the Gympie RSL after contributing 37 years of her life to foster caring in the community.

Donna Jones

Narrelle Poulsen is walking away from a career of 37 years that she says went by in the blink of an eye.

That’s because, she said, being a Foster Carer was something she was always passionate about.

“I remember walking into the Child Safety office in Mary Street opposite the RSL back then in 1986, not knowing what I was looking for, just wanting to know how I could help families and kids,” she said.

Her mother was an inspiration to Narrelle who said the neighbourhood kids would seek her out for a chat.

“I can still see her sitting by the open fireplace chatting quietly and thinking how natural it seemed and how I loved her for it,” she said.

Her grandmother would also care for many children in her community, always happy to do babysitting and before and after school care.

“I suppose it planted the seeds of curiosity and the feeling of wanting children around me was always just naturally there,” she said.

So, back in 1986, Narrelle went to an information night, then a Pre-Service training course.

She said before she’d even finished the training, she and her partner were assessed and had their first young person in their home.

“About 6 months later we welcomed a baby, then our third son arrived, and the first baby’s sibling 6 months after that.

“Four years later another sibling – all very much part of our family today,” she said.

Since that time, Narrelle and her family took in large sibling groups, and helped out in emergencies and provided respite to other Carers.

Those years included many trips to hospital, adoptive care, supporting parents and helping with positive reunifications.

And those positive outcomes were, in Narrelle’s words, the absolute best.

“Ultimately that’s what we’re here for. There has been heartbreak but most of all it has been very, very special,” she said.

Narrelle’s passion lent her to soak up as much training as she could, to learn to communicate and understand the children and young people in her care.

She learned compassion and learned not to judge but to empathise to be able to support families to promote better outcomes for all involved.

Most of all she learned she had help when she needed it.

“This isn’t a road you travel on your own, the agency you are connected to provides support 24/7,” she said.

“They offer lots of training, answer your questions and visit to check in each month (more if you want it) and attend meetings with you.

“You are never alone so if you decide to give it a go, please reach out.

“Your family can offer a place of safety for a little or a long time,” she said.

Fostering is all about supporting the carer so they can in turn support a child or young person, but there is no obligation.

“It is all about where you are at and what is happening in your life at the time you are offered each child or young person.

“It’s okay to say ‘No’.”

Over 30 years of facilitating Pre-Service training she said she’s met many people who are still fostering up to two decades later.

“I’m very proud and thankful for them being here.

“Some decided it wasn’t for them and that’s okay too,” she said.

Sixteen years ago, she started work as a Practitioner at Anglicare SQ in Gympie.

Narrelle described her time with the team and all she worked with and beside as an amazing group of people who are truly inspirational.

Now that she is retiring, she has a parting wish for the community.

“There is such a high need in our community at the moment, it would be wonderful to see families at least coming forward to ask questions, attend the training to become fully informed and see if it may be something they could offer,” she said.

At the Gympie RSL on Tuesday Narrelle was given an emotional send off as she entered retirement and was keen to thank all those she had met during her almost 4 decades of caring.

“I thank our extended family for their support, most of all my children for sharing their parents, their home and their help along the way.

“I am very proud of the achievements that all the young people in my life have made because they are amazing human beings.”

Gympie, like many regional centres, has a growing need for caring people to become foster carers and help improve the lives of children and families who are struggling .

Anyone keen to become involved can head to the Anglicare SQ Foster and Kinship Care information section of the website at


Source link

How can I help you?
National Cyber Security