July 13, 2023

Still going strong

Our longest standing active studio has a few stories to tell

Cheryl has lost count of the number of young people who have called the studio in her backyard their home.

It’s Kids Under Cover’s longest running accommodated studio and has been an extension of Cheryl’s home for 23 years.  When Cheryl offered to become a foster parent all those years ago, she was offered the studio to help accommodate the young people who might have had nowhere else to go.

“I took in teenagers because most foster carers only want to take in the little ones. And I thought, well that’s not really fair to the older kids. So I took kids who were old enough to live in the studio.”

With three daughters of her own in the house, Cheryl usually only took in young girls. But at one stage she couldn’t say no to a young boy who had specific needs.

“The agency came to me and said ‘we’ve got a boy who is living with disabilities and has got nowhere to go. Could you put him up for two weeks?’ And I said ‘ohhhh ok, for two weeks, I can do that.’ I think it was 12 years later he left…”

Cheryl watched that boy emerge from being a very quiet, shy, solitary person into a young man who had developed the confidence and independence to embrace life as a young man. It’s been that way for most of the foster kids she’s taken care of, whether they’ve stayed briefly or for a longer term.

“Having that studio has helped so many kids who have gone through here,” she says. “They lived here mainly to build their independence. We always spent time together at certain times of course, but then there are times when you need your own space. And if the kids got overwhelmed or anything like that, they all had their own rooms to go to. To have time to themselves and time to think or do whatever they needed to do… Without the studio, I couldn’t have done it for so long or for so many children.”

These days, Cheryl’s daughter and her husband are living in the studio while they prepare to raise their family in a place of their own. This way, they have the space and privacy they need while still having the support of their family and a connection to home.

The studio has some stories to tell. It’s had various shades of paint over the years, some structural upgrades and has provided the foundation for countless new beginnings. Cheryl says that since it’s been in her backyard, it’s never been empty.

“Whatever it cost at the beginning,” Cheryl points out, “it’s well and truly been worth it. With all those kids starting their lives out there… and in a better way than they might have. It just gave them a room, a roof over their head, a safe place to be and their own independence. And they grew into adulthood out there.  Yep, it really works.”