For more than 20 years, Bev Rankin has taken up the role as a foster carer to keep children safe. Over the years, she said she has taken care of most children from the region but welcomes any other child who needs a safe space.
"I have taken care of toddlers to teenagers and support them with a stable home and a positive environment," she said."I want to be able to make a difference in someone's life, whether it be in the long or short term, that they know someone has their back and cares for them."
Mrs Rankin said she has faced new challenges amid the coronavirus not just for the children but also as a carer. "When the coronavirus hit, we had to change our plans particularly in the school holidays where some of the children we care for had camps arranged to go on a special adventure and get training," she said.
"As the camps got cancelled, I haven't a respite opportunity to be able to do my own thing. It has also made it difficult for the children who have kept in regular face-to-face contact with their birth family and relatives and now they are not able to see them, so they have been keeping in touch through phone calls."
However, she also said she took part in the My Forever Family NSW online lounge room network where she was able to connect with other foster carers across the state.
"We had the opportunity to chat and share our experiences with other foster carers and skilled facilitators from the organisation," she said.
"There were half a dozen people who participated and it was mutually supportive and encouraging to connect with others. Even as the restrictions lifted for students to be able to return to school, she said some carers have been doing well with home schooling the children".
"Some of the local carers I know prefer to have the children stay at home because they are able to focus on the work without being distracted by other students," Mrs Rankin said.
Mrs Rankin said she strongly encourages anyone who wants to become a foster carer to contact the local agencies available across the Central West including Barnardos, Veritas House, and Life Without Barriers, and open their hearts and homes to those in need.