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Canberran Bev Orr urges more Canberrans to become foster carers

Bev Orr stopped counting the number foster children she has cared for way back in the 1990s, when already more than 300 kids had stayed in her home.

But whether it was for a weekend or longer, Mrs Orr - who is the mum of Labor MLA Suzanne Orr - said it was a joy to help young people in trouble turn their lives around.

The consortium caring for more than 650 children in foster care in the ACT reiterated its plea on Thursday for more families to open their homes to a child in need.

As the ACT government announced an extra $33.7 million for residential care and therapeutic placements for children unable to live with their own families, ACTTogether spokeswoman Melissa Bell said they needed another 80 foster carers by the end of the year.

"We really feel that's what children in the ACT need, to be able to have that placement that is well matched to them, well suited to what their needs are, so we have a really good flexible care system which is adaptive and where we have lots of care options for the children that we work with," Ms Bell said.

"It's an ambitious aim we have in mind in terms of care and recruitment but we think there are lots of people in Canberra who will want to be able to help vulnerable children."

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Mrs Orr said each foster carer she deals with has a unique way of improving their child's life.

"A carer who only has one child for their lifetime or a child with disabilities for a long period of time contributes just as much as a carer who has different children almost every night of the week," Mrs Orr said.

She rattled off story after story of how the right carer can change the course of a child's life. 

"There's one I can recollect where I ran into a person who had run an organisation for extremely traumatised, challenging teens and he told me once he often wondered what happened to so-and-so, every time he went to Goulburn Jail.

"I thought wow, well I can tell you what happened to that person. That person became a senior executive within the public service and that was all because of the connections that person made with the carer and how that succeeded, how that carer was able to support that person, redirect them, make sure the had the right sort of services and support required to actually achieve.

"I can think of another young person who had a horrific childhood and desperately wanted to get into the defence force but because of the childhood background couldn't meet all of the defence requirements in the screening processes.

"That particular carer made an approach to the Chief of Defence's staff and explained the situation and they found a way through it. That young person is now thriving in the defence force as a responsible contributing member of our community and has been overseas for service."

But she said many children in care can end up homeless or with mental health or substance abuse issues if they don't get the right support.

"It is possible despite that trauma and that negative experience when children start off with the right therapeutic support they can turn their lives around and achieve their dreams," Mrs Orr said.

To discuss becoming a foster carer call 1300 WE FOSTER or go to www.acttogether.org.au