Celebrating families during Foster & Kinship Carer Week

CARERS WEEK: James Nikkelson, Nanette Buzzacott, Nicole and Scott Cugley and Aboriginal Family Support Service's Sarah Willis.
CARERS WEEK: James Nikkelson, Nanette Buzzacott, Nicole and Scott Cugley and Aboriginal Family Support Service's Sarah Willis.

There are currently over 3,000 children in foster and kinship care throughout South Australia.

According to the latest Child Protection data, that number has raised significantly over the last five years.

South Australia's Foster & Kinship Carer Week is a way of celebrating carers who have opened their homes to children and young people who are unable to live with their biological parents.

In Port Augusta Nanette Buzzacott and James Nikkelson are no strangers to kinship care.

20 years ago they made a decision to look after Nanette's niece's children and have been kinship carers ever since.

They also have five children of their own and have taken in multiple other family members who have been at risk in unstable living conditions.

"I didn't want to see those children go into anybody else's care when I could look after them," Nanette said.

"We've had our ups and downs through things but out of all this, 20 years later those kids are still with me and are still around us."

While kinship care refers to children who have an existing relationship with the family or community, foster carer families open their homes to children without any prior connection.

Scott and Nicole Cugley have experienced all types of foster care including, emergency, short-term and respite.

But as their family has grown over the years, they have found a special niche with long-term care.

"Lots of kids feel not good enough or let down by either circumstances or organisations so just having stable and consistent people in their life is really important," Scott said.

"For us its been about focusing on routine and consistency," Nicole added.

"Its a battle for these kids to feel that there are people that have no relation biologically to them that are going to love them.

"Some days are really tough for them and for us ... but for the kids it's about knowing we are going to be in their corner even when they stuff up or act out."

There are currently 199 foster carers across South Australia who everyday go the extra mile, but more are always needed.

It can be a challenging role caring for children who have experienced significant trauma in their lives, but there are huge rewards in seeing children flourish.

"I don't have any regrets about going into fostering. It's added a dimension to our family and going on after to have our birth children, it's added a different dimension of what family can look like to them as well," Nicole said.

"It's been a really good experience for us and I think there are other families that could find that out for themselves," Scott added.