Foster care is a way of life for Rotorua couple Colleen and Mark Ellis.

They spent 8 years caregiving in Australia and the past four years caregiving in New Zealand, and wouldn't have it any other way.

Over the years, they have had close to 100 children in their care, giving each one a safe place to call home.

"It's a sad reality that more foster carers are needed because of the demand of kids who need care," Mr Ellis said.


Both from large families, Mrs Ellis said she and Mark grew up with children and family around them, and often the neighbours' kids as well.

"No kids are born with difficult behaviours; it's what's happened to them that makes them do these things."

Child, Youth and Family social worker Julie Maxwell said she was in awe of the couple's talent for working with young people.

"They just roll with it and they are prepared to work with the kids," she said.

"They've got the skills and life experience, as well as the tolerance; all the things that children need."

Giving children plenty of positive experiences was high on the couple's priority list, and it did not have to cost a lot, Mrs Ellis said.

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This week is Foster Care Awareness Week, celebrating the dedication and hard work of people up and down the country who give vulnerable young people a place to call home.

-If you think you could make a difference for a young person who needs you, or if you know someone who may be interested, then Child, Youth and Family would love to hear from you.

Please phone 0508 FAMILY (0508 326 459) or visit for more information.