Wagga is in desperate need of more foster carers to help look after children throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Wagga's support services are encouraging people to consider opening their homes on a permanent or respite basis to disadvantaged children who cannot live with their own parents, who need safe housing now more than ever.
Anglicare's Cathy Carroll is concerned about people "shutting their doors" to young people in need, because of heightened fears around health and safety.
Wagga's Anglicare alone has about 85 local children in permanency support, a state government program which promotes longer-term out-of-home-care for children.
"They're all little people that just, you know, for one reason or another, as you would imagine, can't live at home - Mum and Dad just can't provide the safety to live at home," Ms Carroll said.
Ms Carroll is the Senior Coordinator of Anglicare's permanency support program in Wagga, where she works with vulnerable children who need to stay with extended relatives or foster carers.
"There are about 53,000 children in Australia in out-of-home-care. Roughly 20,000 of those children are in NSW. It's a very big cohort. And about 70 per cent of those children, nationwide, are Indigenous," she said.
"They're little people and they've got a higher risk factor now too. Indigenous children and children with trauma, it lowers their immunity."
It was too early, she said, to predict whether coronavirus would lead to an increase in children needing out-of-home care, but foster care was "one industry that will not shut down".
"There will still be children being identified as unsafe at home and they will still need carers," she said.
Wagga nurses Vanessa Harvey and Toby Taylor said becoming foster carers was "the best thing we've ever done".
The couple, who have one birth daughter, are now planning to adopt their two foster children, whom they've looked after since infancy and who are now 10-years-old.
"All kids are the same. We've got three kids. They just want care, love, support," Ms Taylor said.
"We felt very lucky that we already had one child and we just wanted to make a difference, a positive difference on other children's lives."
The family has fostered a number of other children on a more short-term basis, and Ms Harvey said carers needed to be "really positive and supportive" about the birth families of foster children.
"[People] need to have patience. They need to have empathy. They've seen some horrific things and some trauma ... You just need to hang in there. Give them the support and the love and the boundaries."
Ms Taylor pointed out that no-one could choose their family.
"I would hope if it was me or my child ... someone would be there with open arms," she said.
Ms Carroll said the foster care program had rigorous COVID-19 safety measures in place, including having case workers check in with their low-risk clients over FaceTime or Zoom.
"If we still have to go into homes, we're going in and we're keeping social distancing ... We're having a conversation with the carer: 'Who's been overseas. Has anyone been unwell?' And we're also doing a self check," she said.
Ms Carroll said there was a risk vulnerable children could end up in motel placements, where they stay with a youth worker when no suitable home care can be found.
She said new foster carers could receive much of their training and support online.
"People may, a month ago, have said 'Let's have a talk about doing some foster care'. And now because of COVID-19, they've lost their jobs, their world's been turned upside down, so they've put that thought on hold. We're asking them not to," she said.
"We're not talking forever, we're looking for people to just put their hand up and say, 'I can help. What do I need to do?'"
People interested in finding more about Anglicare's foster care program can visit www.anglicare.com.au