NSW Minister for Family and Community Services and Minister for Women, The Hon Pru Goward, was speaking at the official opening and blessing of CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning’s Maitland office today.
Ms Goward lauded the transition of Out of Home Care from the government to the non-government sector, a process which began in 2011 and is yet to be completed. “We’re well on the way,” she said. “We’re thrilled to have CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning partner with us in this transition.
“I’ve often thought that the Catholic Church is a kind of alternative government – you have everything that the government has but you do it with a sense of mission that the government sometimes lacks.”
A highlight of the opening was an address by CatholicCare carer and NSW Mother of the Year 2012, Caroline Fowles. Mrs Fowles spoke passionately about the experience and benefits of being a foster carer. “Every day I wake up to big eyes, warm smiles and open arms…The CatholicCare staff are there for you 24/7 when you need support, but also allow you the freedom to parent. To have a base in Maitland is fantastic in terms of the support CatholicCare can give the children and families in this region,” she said.
Mrs Fowles made the point that “over 100 children are at risk every day in NSW, and the contribution of foster carers will have far-reaching generational consequences.”
Operations Manager, Out of Home Care (OOHC) Program, Kathryn Puckeridge, said “Our new office provides foster care, adoption, supported independent living and youth counselling services, with the possibility of extending services in the future. This facility allows us to provide a more holistic approach to social services in the Maitland region,” Ms Puckeridge said.
Young chef Josh, a client of the Supported Independent Living program, spoke highly of the support he had received and said that he hopes to work in social services in order to have the impact on others that he has experienced.
Bishop Bill Wright, described by Acting Director of CatholicCare Jen Smith as “a strong advocate for the work of Social Services”, prayed over and blessed the staff and missioned them to bless the new premises in which they work.
Article by Tracey Edstein. You can also view a photo gallery from the CatholicCare Maitland office opening.