Judith Alderson has been opening her home to vulnerable children for almost 20 years.
About 80 Katherine children have spent time in her home, some for a short stay and others for years.
Ms Alderson has been awarded Katherine’s most outstanding foster carer.
“I think I keep fostering because I am a bit of a softy. It does not take much to bring me to tears,” Ms Alderson said.
“It can be really hard for some of the Indigenous kids coming into white families, they are scared and do not know what is going on.
“There are challenges but overall it is pretty rewarding,” she said.
Ms Alderson said her journey as a foster mum has been a roller coaster of ups and downs.
“You need to have a lot of patience because a lot of the children do not come from stable homes,” Ms Alderson said
“It can be really tough. I fostered a baby who had gonorrhea at the age of two.
“But most of the kids are really good and happy. They have great laughs and it does not take a lot to make a child laugh.”
Ms Alderson said it can be heartbreaking saying goodbye to a child you have cared for.
“You know they are going to go back to the family and that is always in the back of your mind,” Ms Alderson said.
“It can be really hard saying goodbye, especially when you have had a child since they were a newborn and have them long term.”
If you have a kid for a day or a week or a year it does not matter, you should always treat them the same as you would your own child.Judith Alderson
Ms Alderson said more people should consider becoming foster parents.
“It is a big responsibility, you have to have the time and space in your home,” Ms Alderson said.
“It is really rewarding and you are helping out the community but you have to love kids. Sometimes you think you are not getting through to them, but then a light bulb goes off and they pick it up, that is a good feeling.”
“Being nurturing is important but above all you need a lot of patience and a steady routine. If you have a kid for a day or a week or a year it does not matter, you should always treat them the same as you would your own child.
The humble foster mum said she was was surprised to have won the NT Government award.
“I was actually quite shocked. I did not expect it at all because I thought there were other people who were more deserving,” Ms Alderson said.
Ms Alderson received her award at the Foster and Kinship Carer Excellence Awards event in Katherine last week.
“She is recognised for her passion and dedication to providing a safe, stable and caring environment for the children placed in her care,” A Territory Families spokeswoman said.
“Judith has shown outstanding support for those children with special and/or complex needs and also for her commitment to ensuring children maintain positive familial and cultural contacts.”
The spokeswoman said more foster families are needed in Katherine.
“The reality is that the number of children and young people in need of care has continued to grow,” the spokeswoman said.
“Territory Families needs more Foster and Kinship carers in all communities across the Territory so children in need of care can stay close to family and other support networks.
“We encourage everyone to contact our Carer recruitment team on 1800 814 599 to talk about how they can join this amazing team of Foster and Kinship carers in their local community.”
As of June this year there were 272 foster care households and 215 kinship care households in the NT.
This is an increase of almost 10 per cent in the past year.