About A Better Life For Foster Kids
Based in Gippsland, Victoria, A Better Life for Foster Kids was founded in 2014 by Heather Baird, who herself grew up in foster care (read Heather’s story below).
A Better Life for Foster Kids’ mission is to improve short and long-term physical, educational and psycho-social outcomes for children in foster care and kinship care.
Our aim is to preserve children’s dignity, improve their feelings of self-worth and lessen social stigma.
We provide material assistance to children in care, and care-leavers, as well as advocacy and support for carers to help them navigate the out of home care system.
A Better Life for Foster Kids is unique in providing Crisis Cases to children on the day they enter an out of home care placement, which contain all the clothing and essential items required for the first week of care. ABLFFK responds to referrals from Department of Health and Human Services staff as well as case-workers, maternity nurses, and youth workers from a range of agencies and organisations, primarily in Gippsland, Victoria.
Our Crisis Cases are provided where and when they are needed by carers, without administrative red tape. A Better Life For Foster Kids is supported by an incredible community of people who want to see better outcomes for kids in care, with over 50 different community organisations, businesses and schools donating new, hand-made and lightly-used items to stock Crisis Cases.
As a small but growing non-profit with an enormous amount of community and volunteer support, each year we have been able to provide Crisis Cases to approximately 15% of the 10,000 children in care in Victoria.
My name is Heather Baird, and I founded A Better Life for Foster Kids in 2014. I would like to tell you the story of why I went down the path of helping foster children.
From the age of 2 ½, I lived in orphanages and many different foster homes. I experienced many difficult situations, but the one that stuck in my mind was going to school with other foster children in old clothing (which were more like rags) and all the other kids knowing that we were “homies” from the way we were dressed. Our clothes belonged in the 1920’s. l remember wishing and praying that l could have nice things, like all the other kids.
Once l left the homes at the age of 17, it was a real struggle to fit into the world. I knew almost nothing of the outside, normal world, and the easiest way to cope with my life to this stage was to live in denial. How I wished someone had taken the time to explain to me how life worked! I had not even seen a supermarket until then, so entering the world as an adult was extremely difficult.
I always wanted to help other children in similar situations, and at the age of 56 l finally had the chance at making my dream come true. In 2013, l completed a Diploma of Social Services at Gippsland TAFE, with the intention of working in the child welfare system. However, while doing a lengthy placement at DHHS as part of my studies, l realised l could do more good advocating for foster children from outside the formal child protection system, and that is what brought this charity to life.
Everything we do at A Better Life for Foster Kids has the intention of giving children in care a feeling of dignity and self-worth and lessening their feelings of social stigma. Our mission is to improve the short and long-term physical, educational and psycho-social outcomes for children in out-of-home-care in Victoria.
Please get in touch if you would like to join us in supporting children and carers in the out-of-home-care system!
l can be contacted on 0412 154 424.
Postal address is Po Box 1138, Sale Vic 3850.