Helping kids have a better life

Tammy Topham in the new branch of A Better Life for Foster Kids in Kooweerup. Pictures: Stewart Chambers

By Shelby Brooks

A not-for-profit organisation aimed at creating a better life for children in foster care has opened its doors in Kooweerup.

A Better Life For Foster Kids provide crisis cases for children living in out of home care and now has a depo on Rossiter Road.

A crisis case is a suitcase packed full of essential items like nappies, clothes, toiletries and blankets for children entering the foster system.

Kooweerup branch manager Tammy Topham said a lot of children entering the foster system come to carers with nothing.

“The idea of the crisis cases is that they’re full of enough stuff for three days to get the kids and carers through those first three days,” Tammy said.

“A lot of kids come without any clothing.

“Babies will come with no formula, no nappies.”

A Better Life For Foster Kids was founded by Tammy’s mother Heather five years ago.

“Mum grew up in the foster system,” Tammy said.

“She remembers growing up and being that foster child who didn’t have anything.

“And she wanted that to stop so these kids can have a real go at life.”

While completing her diploma in community services, Heather did placement with the DHHS.

“While she was there she saw a need (for crisis cases) because kids were coming with just nothing,” Tammy said.

“No agencies really provided that service. They do provide clothes and essential items but it takes time though. It can be three weeks after a carer gets the child that the items come.”

Crisis cases are packed by volunteers, ready to go with items like toiletries, clothes, underwear, nappies, bottles, dummies, blankets and teddies for boys and girls of each age group.

“A carer or agency worker will contact us and say we’ve got a 5-year-old girl and they can come pick the correct case up,” Tammy said.

The original headquarters of A Better Life For Foster Kids is in Sale, so having a distribution centre in Kooweerup makes the pick up for Melbourne or west based carers easier, Tammy said.

“The Sale premises flooded recently and they lost almost everything and have to start from scratch in an emergency venue at the moment so we’re very limited for space,” Tammy said.

“And being based in Sale, it was a long way for people in Bendigo or Ballarat so we needed somewhere closer that would be a lot more accessible.

“Alinta Energy made it possible to have the Kooweerup branch through a grant to help for the first 12 months to set us up and have me here one day a week.”

Good quality donations or new clothes can be donated to Tammy on Tuesdays with prior arrangement on 0402 374 998.

“It’s just normal things you don’t think of, they’re a given to us,” Tammy said.

“I just want to help the kids, to make them feel special, to make them have that love and support.”