Dale is a true unsung hero

Dale Harrison of Berwick was a finalist for Carer of the Year at the 2019 Victorian Protecting Children Awards. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Berwick foster carer, Dale Harrison began fostering with his wife Mel in 2017. They both wanted to give children in need a new direction in life and have been fostering ever since. They fostered *Jane for five months, and *Dillon for eight months, and at the same time, they have been fostering *Ashleigh, 11 and *Ben, 12 long term.

Things took a left turn in 2018 when Mel was diagnosed with cancer. It came shortly after their two foster children’s biological mother passed away. Despite the distress, Dale and Mel supported the children through their mother’s passing.

Things got much worse, and in November of 2018, Mel sadly passed away. For what must have been a harrowing time for Dale, he courageously continued to care for the children even after such tumultuous events. Dale had to not only cope with his grief, but the grief of the children’s too.

“Losing my wife and coping with my grief, and the grief of my foster children was very challenging, but I had to go on to help stabilise the children’s emotions,” Dale said.

“I didn’t know what to expect, I just had to deal with what happened day, by, day and one step at a time.”

Even after the pain Dale went through, he still noticed the positives and the rewards through caring for *Ashleigh and *Ben.

“Seeing the kids change positively in their education at school, and their behaviours, really made me get through it. They now depend and rely on me like they’re my own kids, and it’s a nice feeling.”

Fostering through agency Key Assets, Dale received full support and training.

“Key Assets gave me full support from the top down. I recommend anyone who’s interested in fostering to contact Key Assets because they massively supported me through this.”

The past few years for Dale have probably been the most challenging times in his life. Still, Dale was determined to continue on with foster care when he saw the impact he made in the children’s lives. They developed positively and he knew their trajectory in life had changed for the better. Dale fulfilled what he and Mel set out to do.

Dale’s determination and commitment to the children did not go unheard. His efforts were recognised and he was a finalist for Carer of the Year at the 2019 Victorian Protecting Children Awards.

Right now, there are more than 48,000 children needing care across Australia. If you are interested in becoming a foster carer, Dale says “just do it, don’t think, just do.’” Take the first step and contact Key Assets on 1800 WE CARE or visit keyassets.com.au.

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