Meegan Reeve

Rise to the challenge—Meegan and Stephen's story

“If we can change one person’s life then we are doing well.”

Meegan Reeve first became a foster carer more than 15 years ago, starting in Darwin when she was 19 years old and saw a great need for carers.

“The number of children coming into care outweighed the number of carers,” says Meegan.

“I felt I had quite a bit to give – not only a safe home, and things like that, but the time, and the love, and the support.”

She had already been caring for children for years when she met partner Stephen Labinsky.

“When I first met Meegan she told me she was a foster carer, and I thought the idea of being a carer was great,” says Stephen.

The pair took a while to consider if foster care was right for both of them before Stephen did the training and they took in their first children as a couple. That first placement was a tough introduction for Stephen.

“It definitely wasn’t the fluff and rainbows Steve thought it was going to be,” says Meegan.

“Our first placement was very challenging and I was ready not to do it again,” says Stephen, but they took a break, tried again and have kept going. Stephen has now been a foster carer for several years.

Supporting the cultural needs of Indigenous children in care is very important to Meegan.

“Because of my Indigenous background, we care for a lot of Indigenous children and do a lot of work with the Indigenous community. It is a big part of who I am, so I do like to really help the children discover who they are with their Indigenous backgrounds,” says Meegan.

Cultural support is not just for the benefit of the children.

“It’s important for the child’s parents and family to maintain connections with the child. They still want the great connections when they grow older and when they come out of care and when they are adults,” says Meegan.

Meegan has also found huge reward in supporting the needs of young mothers to help break the cycle of children in care and loves watching their confidence grow.

“One of my big passions is helping young mums become successful, confident parents, helping them with their parenting skills while they’re in care to hopefully avoid their child going into care,” she says.

No foster care journey is without challenges.

“Even though I have been doing it for a long time it still takes time to get to know each child and know how we can support them,” says Meegan.

The couple have cared for children with behavioural issues, medical issues and physical and intellectual disabilities. They also have three children of their own.

“Some of the children come with challenges but we just fit them in wherever we can, and support them however we can, while still supporting our own children,” says Meegan.

Saying goodbye to a child in their care is always difficult.

“You always have to keep it in the back of your mind that they aren’t here forever, and as hard as it is to see them go that’s just part of what we do,” says Stephen.

“We can give them what we can in the time they’re here, which is really important in being able to cope when they move on,” says Meegan.

Meegan and Stephen admit that being foster carers is challenging but the fulfilment of helping children in need keeps them coming back.

“There’s down times too but knowing that you can make a difference to just one child, it’s an amazing feeling and it’s the reason to keep going,” says Meegan.

“Sometimes we have a cry. Sometimes we have a break and then we’ll get back up and do it again.”

“It’s the satisfaction of making a difference. Giving these kids what they need at the time, whether it be a safe home or someone to listen to. It’s the satisfaction of knowing you can do that,” says Stephen.

“To be able to connect to a child on a different level emotionally and know that they trust you is rewarding in itself,” agrees Meegan.

“Just to really stop and see the look on someone’s face when you know that they feel safe is amazing and that’s when you know you’ve done your job.”

Meegan’s mother was inspired to become a foster carer after seeing the great work Meegan was doing. The couple hope others will take the leap and see what difference they can make.

“For someone thinking of being a foster carer, it’s fantastic. It’s not all fun and games but it’s rewarding,” says Stephen.