Becoming a foster carer is a life-changing experience for you, your family and the children who come into your care but until you’ve experienced it, it’s hard to know what to expect.
So it’s understandable that many people considering foster care have reservations about jumping in.
But with a current shortage of foster carers in Australia, we need you more now more than ever.
So if the thought of foster care has ever crossed your mind, now is the perfect time to take the first step. To help you understand exactly what to expect, we’ve answered the most common questions asked about becoming a foster carer.
How long will a child stay with me?
There are different types of foster care that will determine how long a child will be in your care. These range from short-term and respite care, where children may be with you for a day or a week, through to permanent placements. These options will be discussed with you during the application process and might be influenced by factors such as your lifestyle.
Do I have a say about who gets placed in my care?
Yes, your preferences about the age and gender of the child you feel would fit best with your family and lifestyle will certainly be considered. Given the number of children who currently need care in South Australia, we encourage you to keep an open mind so every child has the best possible opportunity to be matched with a family that can meet their needs.
How will having a foster child impact on my lifestyle and family?
Just like parenting, being a foster carer can be challenging at times. Many children who need foster care have significant emotional and behavioural needs and may require levels of care and support that will have an impact on your lifestyle.
Foster caring is also a commitment for your entire household, so it’s important to include your whole family, including your children, in discussions about becoming a foster carer.
Whatever the challenge you may be facing, we are always there to support you, including a dedicated case worker and 24-hour access to one of our social workers who will be familiar with the family history.
Will I have contact with the child’s birth family?
Your details will not be shared with the foster child’s birth family. The aim of foster care is to provide care to children whilst they are unable to stay with their birth family. Sometimes contact may be considered if it is essential to support reunification of the child with their family.
This contact would be arranged by the child’s case worker and only if you and the child’s birth family consent to the contact. The meeting would take place under your case workers supervision and be held in a neutral and agreed location.
Consent for contact can be withdrawn by either family at any time, even if you have already met.
How long will it take to become a foster carer?
The process of becoming a foster carer will generally take between three to five months. This time will vary depending on your availability to complete important training, documentation and safety checks which form part of the assessment process, so you’ll be ready to take on your first foster child.
Will I be paid as a foster carer?
Yes, foster carers do receive a small fortnightly support payment from the Government which is based on the age of the child. This is not a salary and is only intended to cover the costs of caring for a child.
As a foster carer, you’re providing a safe and supportive home for a child or teenager who can’t live with their own family. While it will be challenging at times, it could also be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever undertake, and incredibly important for the children you care for.
Want to learn more?