Gladstone foster carer welcomes push for more information
WHEN Casey Scholl goes to sleep at night, she knows her phone could ring at any hour.
The 35-year-old Gladstone woman is an emergency foster carer, which means she is sometimes asked to welcome children into her home on short notice and often under distressing circumstances.
"It can all happen within half-an-hour and suddenly you've got kids on your doorstep," Ms Scholl told The Observer.
"I've had phone calls at 1am. It's always mixed feelings - you wonder, what's happened to these kids that they need to be placed into care at 1am?
"There's also some excitement that you're able to help out... plus worry. It's all there."
Ms Scholl's situation is common among carers and has been brought to the attention of the State Government.
Child Safety Minister Di Farmer last week announced the release of a new mobile app, Carer Connect, which is aimed at assisting carers through the initial, most difficult part of the process.
The app will provide carers with important information like medical, education and household records for children coming into their care.
Ms Farmer said the app had been developed based on feedback from carers, who said placements often happened quickly and initially with only minimal information.
"One of the functions that I'm particularly excited about is the ability to upload pictures of a carer's home and family, which can be shown to children before they come into their care," Ms Farmer said.
"This means children will have some familiarity before they move into a new family and it will make the transition smoother and easier for both the child and the carer."
Ms Scholl said if the app worked as promised it would be hugely useful for carers.
"Having even a little bit of information is great for that first meeting but having more is even better, so you can know what to expect," she said.
"Just so you can know how they might react to surroundings they're not familiar with or how they might react to having other kids around them.
"There's always a lot of things you have to consider."
Ms Scholl, who grew up with foster siblings herself, said anyone considering volunteering as a carer should consider the impact it would have on their family and work life before taking the plunge.
"I'd recommend they find an agency that's going to suit their situation and that they read up on all the information that they possibly can," she said.
"It's definitely not easy but it is definitely rewarding."
The rollout of the Carer Connect app will begin this month.