IT’S Victoria’s inaugural Kinship Carers Week, and Child and Family Services, Berry Street and Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-Operative united on Monday to celebrate.

The welfare groups brought together kinship carers from across the Grampians region for morning tea, to thank and congratulate them for the work they do, looking after children.

Cafs Kinship Care Team Leader, Toni Schiltz said it was a good social opportunity to encourage networking between like-minded guardians, who have “amazing commitment and dedication,” but can often feel isolated.

“The majority of kinship carers are grandparents parenting for a second time, aunts, uncles, cousins, older siblings or significant others, but not relations,” she said.

“Essentially, our Kinship Carers are volunteers who may be parenting for a short time or until the child reaches adulthood “They have children in statutory care or they’re informal carers, which means they’re private arrangements with family.”

Kinship carer, Vivienne Wilson has discovered a support network of people with similar lived experiences at events like Monday’s morning tea.

“It’s great to know that you’re not alone, you experience similar things and you get to exchange different ideas and strategies,” she said.

Ms Schiltz has been in her role for six years and is continuously inspired by kinship carers’ stories.

“What they’re doing is incredible. We’re proud to share their journey with them,” she said.

“Some of our children reach permanent care, where they go into their forever homes with their kinship carers, and that’s lovely to see.