Queen’s Birthday Honours List Recognises Child Advocates, by Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

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A couple in  Invercargill New Zealand, who have fostered children with special needs for over 25 years, have been recognised in the 2016 Queen’s Birthday Honours list, receiving the Queen’s Service Medal.  Talking about their decision to become foster carers, John Mooij says, “Everyone’s lives pan out in different ways. Some want to travel, some want to get their kids off their hands. Not everyone could do this, but it’s something we love.” [Source: The Southland Times].

This is not the first time people have been recognised for services relating to the care of and advocacy for children, but it is wonderful to see that this is becoming increasingly common.  Children’s issues, including the right to a place to be and grow up in are increasingly being seen as important and it is great to see, in this case, the care of children with special needs being acknowledged and supported.

“We don’t need a world full of rocket scientists but we just want our children to be the best they can and to have good life skills and get on and enjoy life, because that’s what it’s there for.”

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Foster Carers Lynda and John Mooij   [Source: Southland Times}

Mrs Mooij said she hoped their honours would draw attention to other children in need of a permanent foster home, particularly those with special needs.

“I get upset by how many placements some children have – especially those with fetal alcohol syndrome – who go from house to house.” [Source: Radio New Zealand News].

Lynda and John Mooij have five biological children between them and have fostered more than 21 children over the years.  They currently have four “forever” foster children.

The couple modestly say they are “…just a couple of foster carers from Invercargill…”, but it is encouraging to see how their important work has been recognised and how it has drawn attention to foster care, in particular for children with special needs.


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