Congratulations to all of our host families who have been nominated by their Care Professionals for our annual Host Family of the Year Awards! The live-in caregiver relationship is a unique one, and these families have gone over and above to not only make their Care Professionals feel welcome, but to encourage their professional and personal growth, as well. We are excited to announce this year’s winner – The Halstead Family. Learn more about the family and the impact they have made on their Care Professional Anna, one of our superstar alumni’s below:

Hi, this is Anna and right now I’m in Bargara, Queensland, in Australia, living together with an awesome family that includes my host parents Rebecca and Graham and the two kids William (11 yrs) and Eva (9 yrs). Will has cerebral palsy and is nonverbal as well.

I live with this family since November but I can already tell that I made a good pick. Since I’ve been in the US for two years before and had a really loving family, I thought I can’t have luck twice – but I have!

I nominate my host family because I’m convinced they deserve it! In the following I explain why:

Already before I came to Australia I felt more than comfortable in talking with Bec and Graham. Even though I didn’t work that much with special needs children they picked me to take care of their son Will. Will was born with cerebral palsy, can’t walk or talk. So he needs help and care 24/7 and I appreciate it so much that they give me the opportunity to work with Will even though I’m not a therapist. They appreciate my work as a preschool and kindergarten teacher and just want qualitative care and the best for their son. Again, that makes me feel so appreciated!

When it comes to my work with both Will and Eva, Bec and Graham give me so much room and possibilities. They trust me and let me figure out new exercises for Will or find ways to teach Eva and get prepared for school. Especially with a special needs kid this cannot be taken for granted, so I take my job very serious and literally grow in my skills every day. This is just awesome!

My host mom Rebecca is not just a mom of two, no, she also has twin boys who are 19 and already moved out. And she doesn’t have just one job, no, she has two. Bec is such an ambitious and tough person, I never met someone like her before. Even though she works full time and has a special needs child, she always has an open ear for me and time for chats.

Graham is such a caring and loving dad, he would do everything for Will that makes his life better. Since he had back surgery he can’t work at the moment. That also means he can’t lift Will anymore and is so thankful for having me. We kind of work together and support each other. Graham is so kind, he sometimes takes more care about us than himself. He wants the best for everyone and is the good soul of the family.

Will is such a cute little boy. Even though he is disabled, he makes my day with his laugh. He also made me a better carer for special needs children since he gives me so much feedback. I definitely know he has so much more potential and one day he’ll hopefully be able to use more of it.

Eva is Wills little sister and so caring. One day I asked her if she sometimes wishes to have a ‚normal‘ brother. Without even thinking about an answer she said: ‚No! I love Will and I don’t want a different brother!‘. I almost started crying because that shows me how much she cares about Will. When I work with Will and need a hand she doesn’t hesitate and help me. For sure she quite like it when I give her some extra attention and do an ‚Anna – Eva Day‘ but she never complains if Will goes first.

Both of my host parents take so much care about me and how I feel since I live in little Bargara (7000 residents) and they know it’s hard for me to connect to locals. They’re happy to take me to events they go and introduce me to friends and family. They want me to live an independent life here in Australia where I can still travel and see lots of new things, so they make it possible for me as much as they can. That means they give me off a long weekend or take me to appointments in other big cities so that I have the opportunity to see more of this beautiful country – even though there’s still covid.

I can tell they really appreciate my work and want to return the favor with time! Time is something I can use the most, both with my host family or just by myself. I definitely enjoy my time here in Australia and one advantage is that I can feel like home with my host family – and that is something I can tell even since just two months with them!