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Is it nature or nurture?

Media Statement November 6, 2012
For Release
Is it nature or nurture?

Nov 2 to 8th is New Zealand Foster Care Awareness week, and one amazing woman speaks of her 27 year experience.

“If you know better, you do better”.

These are the words of someone who has cared for over 100 young people in her own home.

Susan has been a Foster Care parent for twenty seven years.

In addition to her foster children, Susan has six children. Two of her own and four adopted between the ages of 32 and 6 years, and five grandchildren.

At present she has a young 14 year old girl in her care, placed through Youth Horizons, a leading NGO, providing specialist Foster Care and support for young people with conduct behaviour and their families.

Susan’s mother also used to foster children and she believes it requires an innate sense of nurture to care for the children of others. “It is worth every minute when I see a young person who comes to my home sad, angry and afraid and I watch them little by little as their eyes open up and they start to feel safe” says Susan “I think it’s my job to show them that, yes, the world is full of injustice and you were wronged, but there are still people who care”.

The biggest influence for Susan was her first foster child, a 14 year old girl, homeless and a prostitute. She lived with Susan on and off for five years. During her time with Susan she became pregnant and had a baby girl at 16 years old she asked Susan to adopt the baby which she did. The young girl sadly passed away of a drug overdose at the age of 19. But today her baby daughter is 23 years old, in a loving stable relationship and is expecting her 2nd child. Susan boasts “She is a perfect parent, I am very proud!” She believes these young people can be turned around.

Susan feels the government response to vulnerable children is a step in the right direction as it is a huge problem that won’t be solved with any one answer. She says she and other caregivers were thankful to have the opportunity to talk to the Minister for Social Development on her recent visit to Youth Horizons. “We asked her to do more in the area of education as it is the key for these young people to stop the cycle and not repeat what their parents do, the problem is, these children in care struggle to get access to a quality education and this needs to be addressed” says Susan “If they know better, they do better”.

More than 1500 New Zealand children are raised in care. Foster Care awareness week recognises people like Susan all over New Zealand who selflessly give their time, their homes, their patience and their love.

About Youth Horizons:
1) Youth Horizons A not-for-profit trust established in 1996
2) Specialising in evidence based solutions for young people with significant anti-social behavior and conduct problems predominantly in Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Northland and Waikato.
3) Today Youth Horizons’ work also encompass a suite of therapeutic services all aimed at young people and their families who are in-risk or at-risk of negative social outcomes
4) Services range from clinical in-care intensive treatment, to residential and community-based therapeutic and social interventions
5) Youth Horizons’ key point of difference is in the alignment of cultural, clinical and community best practice where all outcomes are measured
6) More than 180 permanent and contract staff and thirty family homes

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