The Reality of Foster Care

With a shortage of foster carers around Australia amid a mass exodus of current carers, and the continued call for more families to foster children who are in need of care and protection, it is timely to revisit perhaps the highest profile foster case in the country.

Adelaide couple Graeme and Jacqueline Bowden, at the time well off by anyone’s standards, decided to open their hearts and their home to a foster child.

From the beginning the Bowdens experienced roadblocks and hindrances caused by Families SA, now the Department for Child Protection, along with Anglicare. The outcome has become the destruction by Families SA of multiple lives. The Bowden’s story is not unique. Their story is being replicated still today in every state of Australia. We catch up now with Jacqueline Bowden 8 years on since Families SA cruelly ripped her family apart.


  1. Well said Jackie. As a young girl working with her in our early days in a small country town She was an aspiring young chef who followed her dreams and never stopped till she did.Watch out all child Services and Jackie dont give up on your little girl. I was adopted at birth and i had the best parents in the world.
    She hopefully when at the right age will come and find you.She will never forget you

  2. About time these stories get out to the public! This is happening all the time with these dep’ts and IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE CHILD’S BEST INTEREST? The trauma these children are put through stays with them for life, and all done at the hands of the very people who claim to keep them safe! The trauma done to children just from removing them is life changing and they are not given support to deal with this trauma! Many children are ripped from their carers or parents arms, screaming and kicking, so this damage is far worse than whatever reason they are being removed! Supports can be put in place to help families stay together, but they remove children without trying supports. Many children go through 10 or more foster homes and each change damages them more! The system needs to make drastic changes, and start acting for the children, rather than against them. Rarely do they allow the child to say what they want. I too have dealt with these monsters, so I know first hand what tjey are capable of! If you complain you are then targeted by CPS in the cruelest of ways! (This is referred to as “pay back” amongst carers!) Not surprising many parents end up suiciding? If they Don’t have a case, they will lie and make a case against you! Since “hearsay” is allowed in the court system, they never have to prove what they say about you! (In most cases horrific lies!) It seems there is also the $ factor involved with removing children? Once removed, very few ever get them back? They go bankrupt fighting this corrupt system! I pray for change!

  3. I cry every day for my beautiful girl also a gom 18 she was taken with only half hour notice told she was going on a holiday and that I would see her every day that was the cruelest thing they could have told her as they never let me see her again she was a loving trusting child now she has been through several Carers and is disruptive no wonder FSA never gave any notice to what I said I had witnesses who disputed all their lies about me but they wouldn’t even listen to them I pray that one day I will be able to hold her and let her know I didn’t abandon her that I still love her FSA do take revenge if you ever question them or disagree that’s what happens to so many of us and AFFS aboriginal family foster servicesmy so called support team were not there for me they went along with FSA even though they saw us every mth and never said there was a problem they stilled backed FSA

  4. What does she mean when she says “the credit stopped because we couldn’t keep a foster child and the bank foreclosed?”.I don’t understand this.

    1. What I mean by this is:

      When a family company as successful as Keith Bowden Electrical had survived 48 years of retail; to then be defeated by the trauma of having a foster daughter removed, it sent shock waves around the industry and beyond.

      My husband lost the respect from fellow comrades and industry contemporaries.
      There were vicious innuendos that had no substance but were used as a substitute for answers as to why the Bowden’s foster daughter was taken, in the absence of a rational answer. There was no rational answer so rumours were started and my husband was labelled non-functional. The bank got this information and dropped credit for one million dollars overdraft in one night. Cash flow and stock flow forced our business into voluntary administration. The Bank foreclosed, not allowing any more credit. There was no other option but to close our doors lose all the properties, buildings and land assets and pay all the staff and suppliers. We lost land, cars houses livelihoods and our life’s work.

      My husband now cleans houses for what were some of his customers.

      This is what happens. Whole livelihoods gone all because of inaccurate assessments and inaccurate information used against us by Families SA.

      1. Me too. Not only financial, it breaks you. You become angry and bitter at the world. Eventually I got her back years later. Soooo much damage done to both of us we both couldn’t cope. Totally destroyed my faith in people and lost my heart. My family has also suffered.

        1. Imagine then the damage done to natural parents who lose their kids for no good reasons.I find it hard to have empathy for foster parents because I know most children are taken for no good reason and I doubt that in many cases whether the foster parents work with the parents to try to get them back with the kids.

      2. Same thing happened to us.
        Docs ruined our reputation in the neighbourhood. One of their staff spread around that we had had a Foster child removed.
        They made an allegation that we hit an “unknown child on an unknown date at an unknown venue” and put us on the WWC Register. We lost our job, we very nearly lost our home and everything else.
        We’ve been humiliated and embarrassed. And you know what ?

      3. My god I’m so sorry to your family. That is beyond unfair. I really feel your pain.
        I have a completely different problem to do with loss of my children and need help from the system. However I know it’s not worth my energy to follow this path as NOTHING will come of it other than more damage. There is already too Much damage done for their incompetent system to unravel, let alone deliver justice to the children. Unfortunately in my experience there is no real help for children or anyone.
        My children and I are living proof of this butterfly effect. It’s beyond belief and devastating and trauma inducing to so many of us. My children and live with our trauma ever single day with no end in sight. When will the hypocrisy & evil stop?

  5. I too was a foster carer and this sounds very familiar . I spent 20 yrs fighting the system for support for children in my care. Three of those children had high needs . I was harrassed and threatened by the parents of these children constantly for years and Child protection did not protect us. I was brought to the point of a mental break down which caused depression and anxiety which I am still being treated for. It caused my marriage to break down as well. Two of those children are still with me at 23yrs and 19yrs old. They are both Autistic. Our time over the years under Child protection was a night mare that still stays with us today. If you are going to do fostering I recommend that you are a very strong person to be able to cope with the hell that is brought upon you. I suffered it out for 20yrs just to make sure the two that stayed in my care were given the love and support they needed. They still are given that support and will be for many more years.

  6. We can stand together against the maladministration of our government and bring about change because I am not going to sit idle as the speculation and hearsay from this department continues to destroy my children’s future.. I would rather be stateless than oppressed. DON’T GIVE UP

  7. Omg this exactly happened to us 6 months ago. Our foster daughter wasn’t allowed to come home she was taken from school. My son which is our biological son misses his sister. Alot more happened from the biological grandmother who actually asked us to take her as she didn’t want to do it. Because she couldn’t have the control over us she told them I was on drugs. So I was being drug tested obviously all negative. They got my husband arrested which he is a very gentle man. Just don’t know what to do. Want her home she was with us 5 years from age of 15 months we were mum and dad. They won’t let us speak to her as she keeps asking when can she come home. What do we do. Please someone tell us. This was through facs east maitland nsw

    1. They do this to a lot of foster carers.
      Sometimes they ask the police to attend when they are taking the child from the carers home.
      The police come in with full force, sometimes violently, as Doc’s say they are needed as the child is in imminent danger. And the Police believe them!
      The minute you look sideways at any Caseworker, or disagree with anything. Gosh, you don’t even have to do anything at all for a caseworker to start on you. They enjoy it. It’s a sick game they play. A powerplay. They get off on punishing you, breaking your heart, ripping apart your family. I guess we all know now how the birth mothers feel. Very sad, traumatised. Set up.
      Docs will tell all sorts of lies to the Courts.
      Their modus operandi is to make up an anonymous allegation against a carer. Then it’s full steam ahead on how to emotionally, socially and financially ruin the family. If they can lose you your career, livelihood, arrest you in a trumped up assault charge against the caseworker, ruin your standing in the local community, put you on the WWC register so you can’t do pony club or netball with your kids or volunteer at their school.
      There is a reason why there is 10,000 “non-active” foster carers on their books. It’s because they’ve been chewed up and spat out by this corrupt department

  8. Now you are beginning to feel the pain & frustration that I myself experience as a mother of kids in care , we are not all bad parents .The system is well & truly due for an overhaul . We all need to stand together against this corrupt government for the rights of our children who are meant to be our future. Welcome to the new stolen generation

  9. I could only have wished to have had foster parents, as loving as you present. Not all foster parents are altruistic when fostering children.

    Some children are treated like slaves; sexually; physically; psychologically; and/or emotionally abused and the “Dept” or NGO do nothing about it, either because they don’t look or wanna see – that’d be admitting a lack of duty of care – or because they’ve nowhere else to place them. Siblings are split up, with some never to see each other again.

    The system is totally stuffed by either taking kids from their natural parents, without providing support, beforehand or by giving the kids to foster parents, who are less than ideal.

    This comes from experience. Well into my adulthood, I’m still reliving the nightmares of the foster placements of my childhood. In hindsight, my mother wasn’t perfect, but I was taken from a warm pan and thrown into hot fires. I would’ve been better off, if they’d left me with her.

    You sound lovely and I’m sorry this has happened to you. I hope she’ll come back to you when she’s an adult and has agency and capacity, independent of “the system”.

    Good luck 🙂

  10. We have seen first hand the abuse child protection add to these children we have had 3 in our care who we have watched over and over again be ignored for what they want and the department make decisions that have added so much trauma to them. The department has also abused and have pushed us to breaking point so many times when we have tried to stand up for the kids. It is beyond a joke how these children are treated and the abusing parents give thousands in tax payer’s money to continue to add abuse to the children

Leave a Reply