Fostering love - meet Brenna Moore

For most of us, the thought of young children being separated from their families and moved through a Government system in a bid to find a new home that will work for them and help them grow and succeed, is tainted with sadness.

It’s certainly not the fault of the children; they have no say in it. For many of us, we’ll question whether it’s society – ‘What’s the world come to?’ or we can often blame the parents – ‘They’re no good – shouldn’t have been allowed to have children in the first place…’ Check out social media on just about any day of the week, particularly around a crime that happens to have involved a juvenile, and it’s pretty much guaranteed the arguments will be played out in the comments below.

Luckily, for the children involved, there is a strong network of practitioners, youth workers, carers and health professionals who care little for those arguments and more about getting their hands dirty, asking questions, listening hard and thinking outside the box to find a way of matching little personalities with the services and support they could use to help them overcome the trauma they’re living through and become the best people they can be.

For Integrated Family and Youth Service (IFYS) Intensive Foster Care Practitioner, Brenna Moore, her mission every day is to work with her team and their supporters to provide high level care and support for children and foster carers working in the child safety system.

For Brenna, her team leader, Lorraine and their administration and rostering star, Vicki, it’s a three-person weave as they navigate the challenges of managing children in care from Strathpine in the south to Gympie in the North.

Brenna said in her role they were there to help with the children whose needs, be they physical or emotional, put them at higher risk of breaking down placements, bouncing around the care system or struggling to find a new family.

She said while foster children shared the trauma of being removed from their families, for some, the reasons behind the move were considerably more tragic than others – adding an extra layer of grief for little ones who craved routine and strong, healthy role models in life.

The IFYS Intensive Foster Care team works with the Department of Child Safety and Queensland Health to help coordinate check-ups and medical appointments, and to seek extra supports or therapies when required. They also work very closely with carers of the children within their program, often talking with them daily to seek updates on their progress and to offer assistance where they can.

Brenna said IFYS had worked hard to recruit a large and diverse list of youth workers who provided an extra layer of support for children in need. ‘We have a pool of skilled youth workers that we can draw from,’ she said. ‘It’s their role as a youth worker to be a safe and stable person who can form a relationship with the children.’

‘We have people of all types. There are young men, young dads, young mums with their own children, women without children and younger people who have been through university or even through the system themselves,’ Brenna said.

‘It’s another person for the children as we try and build the team around them, as well as their extended network of support.’ With two children of her own, Brenna knows just how challenging life can be juggling the needs of the children with the need to earn an income and put food on the table.

She says it’s no different for the carers who are looking after foster children – in fact, it’s harder as the children, particularly those who are approaching their teen years when they come into the system, are dealing with myriad problems such as loss of identity, a lack of security, uncertainty and more.

Brenna’s journey into the foster care world started with working in residential care, gaining hands on experience with young people; before commencing a role as a Foster Care Coordinator with another agency. Brenna moved to IFYS in 2015 to join the Foster Care team and recently shifted to her role within the Intensive Support Team. ‘I’ve been lucky enough to have had a couple of amazing mentors I’ve worked with along the way to help guide and mould my practice, making sure that the little people we work with have the best support we can offer them.

The intensive program is designed to work extra closely with children in need and their carers, with the aim of finding the right mix of medical and physical supports to land on a stable situation where the children have the right team around them to get better and continue on their life’s journey.

Once that happens, the Intensive Foster Care team are able to hand over their case to another member of the IFYS general Foster and Kinship Care team for continued support over the months and years ahead. Brenna said all too often the negatives around young children getting into strife seem to dominate the news – while many great news stories are left untold – partly because concerns around confidentiality and the sensitivities of the foster care world make it too difficult to tell them.

‘We really enjoy the fact we’re seeing young people we’ve supported come back, telling us that they have secured a job, or they are looking after their own family now,’ Brenna said. ‘They tell us that – “I’m actually achieving something that has meaning” – and they’re proud.’ Brenna said there will always be a demand for social workers and carers; for those people who have a passion for helping others in need. When people ask her what it takes to be a foster carer, Brenna said passion for children and a love of teamwork are key. ‘You need to be engaged with a whole team of people coming into your home and your life,’ Brenna said. ‘You have to be a real team player with a good understanding of what you’re going into and be really open in the process. They’re not just cuddly little people we support, some are prickly and just in need of someone who can have endless positive regard and “stickability” to ensure a caring adult is present in their lives.’

Regardless of the challenges the sector presents, for Brenna the effort is well worth it. ‘The world that we work in isn’t always positive – and we can’t share all the good stuff – but there are such amazing things that come out of foster care and kinship care.’