Katherine super-mum Julie Clifford had five children of her own but found space in her life for even more.
“I guess I was not really ready to not be a mum anymore, as my kids got older they didn’t need me as much,” Mrs Clifford said.
“I have always adored kids. I would of had lots more if I could have coped.
“I thought becoming a foster carer is one way I could help out,” she said.
Ms Clifford said fostering three baby boys has been one of the most rewarding things she has ever done.
“The highlight for me is having these kids around every day. They are just a delight,” Mrs Clifford said.
“It is heartbreaking when you have to give them back to the family, even though that is the end goal that you want, it is very hard.
“I had one little boy in my care for more than three years, that is a long time to have a child and watch them grow,” she said.
“I went through a stage of grief when I had to give the first boy back, but he still comes around and visits me all the time.”
Mrs Clifford said nothing can prepare you for the heart-swelling moments of sheer joy you experience as a foster carer.
“It is so enjoyable, I have always gotten along really well with the families. I recommend foster caring, if people love kids it is worth it,” Mrs Clifford said.
“It is really important to have enough carers in Katherine, because if there is not a home here the children get sent away to Darwin.
‘We really do need a lot more carers in Katherine.”
Mrs Clifford said she was pleasantly surprised when she discovered she had been recognised by the NT Government for her contribution as a foster carer.
“When I found out I thought, ‘yeah right’ there are so many more people in town who do a better job then me,” Mrs Clifford said.
“It was a bit of a shock.”
I recommend foster caring, if people love kids it is worth itJulie Clifford
Julie Clifford was celebrated by the NT Government for her outstanding work as a foster mother at an awards night this month.
“Julie consistently provides a safe, stable and caring environment for children in their care with the support of her husband Mark,” a Territory Families spokeswoman said.
“Julie is an active member of the local arts and sporting communities and get involved with the kids in many social activities and community events.
“She consistently ensure children in their care receive appropriate medical attention when required and makes a point of educating herself on how to support the development of a child with any diagnosis,” she said
“Julie establishes and maintains positive and respectful relationships with her foster children’s families and ensures the children understand her support for them having strong connections to family, culture and country.”
There are currently 420 foster and kinship carers in the Northern Territory, but the number of children in care is rising
Figures identified in the Royal Commission show 1032 children were in out of home care in 2015–16, compared to 748 children in 2012–13.