Emergency carers provide short-term care at short notice for children who urgently need a place to stay.
This could be when children first come into care, or if they need a home before they are able to move to long-term care.
Emergency carers often are skilled in helping children who have experienced abuse and trauma.
Some short-term or long-term carers may also be available for emergency placements.
Tyrone, eight years old and Sarah, six years old needed a safe place to stay at very short notice. They were placed with emergency carers Matt and Lisa for three days while Child Safety Services arranged a longer-term placement.
Matt and Lisa, emergency response carer
My first emergency placement was a rather traumatic experience. The young person I took in was involved in a rather complicated police situation, including running away, theft, self harm and threats of violence. It was definitely not what I expected for the first 48 hours of my first placement.
Luckily my Mercy (non-government) support workers were with me every step of the way – even at 2am when I didn’t know what else to do. They made sure I felt like I could provide this child with the support and home they needed to get back on their feet, just until they could find the right person to care for them for the longer term. My support workers reminded me that every child is different and has different needs, and that every carer has different strengths.
Since then, I’ve learnt a lot about myself and my capacity to care for children in a wide variety of situations. In all the emergency placements I’ve had, there have been so many heart-warming experiences – so many hugs, and thank-yous, and I love yous, and those times when a child makes it into a long term home.
It makes up for all the traumatic stories I’ve heard, knowing where they’ve come from, when they don’t know where they’re going to sleep the next night, whether or not they’ll see their parents again, and whether or not they want to.
It’s hard, emotional work providing them with support through what is often a terrifying experience for them and finding support for myself to help them where I can and let them go when I have to. It’s not easy, but I remind myself how hard it must be for these kids, and that makes every challenge I encounter feel like a positive step forward.
Katherine, emergency response carer