Main Menu

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q: How are Children placed with Foster Carers?

    A:

    We assess all potential Foster Carers to make sure we place our children and young people with caring and loving families. We also train our Foster Carers to ensure they have the knowledge and skills required to care safely and with confidence. From the assessment process, you and the Life Without Barriers Care Team will know what age of child(ren) and what needs level would work best in your family and your confidence levels to care for particular children. The Government Child Protection Departments in each State or Territory refer children to LWB. We need to determine if we have any available Foster Carers who could meet the needs of that child. Each child and young person is then matched to an approved Foster Carer based on that information which will promote stability and long-lasting relationships. If the child attends school or day-care, we look for Foster Carers who live within that area to ensure we make as little changes to the child’s life as possible. Of course, this isn’t always possible. Foster Carers can say ‘no’ to a placement if they do not think that child if there are particular factors in the family at that time that would mean that a successful placement was less likely.
  • Q: Do children in foster care have contact with their family?

    A:

    We believe families are important. Most children have contact with their parent or parents and / or siblings where it is a positive experience and promotes meaningful ongoing relationships within the family. The best outcome for children in foster care is for there to be a positive relationship between Foster Carers and the child’s first family. Children and young people can see that all the important adults in their lives are working together to ensure their future is bright and full of enduring attachments. Some children meet with their family frequently – especially when they are working towards going home (reunification /restoration). Of course, the child or young person’s interest and safety is our primary consideration and each situation is assessed individually. Contact plans are usually determined by the Children and Family Courts and it is our job to make sure we fulfil those requirements with the best interest of the child in mind. It is important for children to have positive relationships with their family even if they only see them a few times a year. The child needs to understand where they come from, their cultural or religious background, how they are connected to their wider family network and to develop an understanding and acceptance of why they are in foster care. Children and young people in foster care interact with their first family in a setting that is most suitable to their situation. This may be at a local office, at our family contact centre, in the community or at their family’s home.
  • Q: Does LWB arrange specialist services like speech therapy or counselling?

    A:

    Clinical services are provided by professionally trained clinicians from a range of backgrounds including psychology, nursing, social work, speech pathology, occupational therapy and physiotherapy. The child’s Case Plan would dictate the types and amount of supports required. Clinicians assist and support children and young people in a number of key areas including issues of attachment and trauma, health care, developmental assessments, positive behaviour support and language development. Clinical services, through specific training and support, also play a key role in developing and supporting Foster Carers and Employees working directly with children and young people to maintain quality practices.
  • Q: How does adoption from foster care work?

    A:

    Adoption is the legal process which permanently transfers all legal rights and responsibilities of being a parent from a child’s birth parents to the adoptive parents. For further information into Foster to Adoption in NSW, please go to: http://www.fosteringnsw.com.au/open-adoption
  • Q: How does LWB support Aboriginal & Torres Islander children in foster care?

    A:

    Life Without Barriers supports and adheres to the Aboriginal Placement Principle. Depending on the situation and State or Territory, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children may have a Cultural Support Plan which includes connection to family, community, country and culture. The Care Team which may include a Cultural Support Planner/Officer, works with the child to ensure that all goals on the plan are being worked towards or are met. The central focus of all Cultural Support Plans is the reunification of children with their families and community, whilst at the same time ensuring that all children have knowledge about their heritage and family background. A major component of the cultural support plan is to ensure that all children have an opportunity to be supported to ‘Return to Country’. Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Foster Carers are needed across the country – we actively encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to apply. In some States, we work in partnership with Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Out-of-Home-Care organisations and may direct Foster Carer Enquiries to that organisation in the first instance.
  • Q: Do Foster Carers receive financial support?

    A:

    Foster Carers receive a range of support which includes special training, respite and financial support to meet the costs of caring. The Foster Carer reimbursement varies depending on: • which State or Territory you provide service • the needs of the child • the number of children in the family group Other costs of care are negotiated per each child’s case plan such as school, medical and activity costs. Life Without Barriers also has a corporate health plan with NIB, providing foster carers with the opportunity to save on private health insurance. The corporate health plan provides Life Without Barriers staff and Foster Carers with access to an exclusive corporate discount on NIB’s range of health insurance, along with other benefits.
  • Q: Does my previous driving offence exclude me from being a Foster Carer?

    A:

    The requirements vary slightly in each State or Territory but generally the criminal convictions that prevent people from fostering are those that relate to offences against children, sexual offences, and a history of violence, drug trafficking, fraud and related charges. Minor offences (such as driving offences) should not count against you in your application to foster. However, patterns of behaviour would be taken into consideration. You will need to tell us about all previous convictions when you apply to foster as the application process to become a foster carer includes a background check (Working with Children Check and Criminal Record check).
  • Q: What does cultural planning involve?

    A:

    Cultural planning services provide specialised support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people by trained Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees. The aim of these services is to develop a child or young person’s cultural identity and participation in the local Aboriginal community. The key to the success of this process is contact with the child’s Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander family and wider community.
  • Q: How does LWB support children with their education?

    A:

    Life Without Barriers and the Foster Carers work closely with the school or educational program, to ensure that children and young people reach educational milestones and have the same learning opportunities and experiences as their peers. Children and young people in care have their individual learning needs monitored on an ongoing basis with additional supports provided in partnership with Education Departments as necessary.
  • Q: How long does it take to become a Foster Carer?

    A:

    We want to make sure that we have explored all avenues with someone before they are approved as a foster carer – so speed is not our primary goal, thoroughness is our priority. However, the quick answer is: it depends. Our goal in LWB is that assessments are completed within 4 months. There are times when delays occur that are out of our control, such as the processing of formal police checks and other times when scheduling becomes complicated such as trying to arrange training for a group of people that suits everyone’s schedule, arranging interviews with all household members and so forth. We will always let you know where things are up to and if we expect delays.
  • Q: Will my previous medical history impact on my ability to become a Foster Carer?

    A:

    Your health is one the areas that will be reviewed in the suitability assessment to foster. You need to be psychologically, emotionally and physically fit to manage the day to day care and demands of a child or children who have and high needs of their own. Your doctor will need to provide evidence that fostering will not have a negative impact on your health or condition.
  • Q: How does LWB support a child leaving foster care when they are 18?

    A:

    We believe that all young people leaving care have the potential to achieve independence and success as valued members of their community. Transition support services assist individuals who are leaving care to form safe, stable, nurturing relationships within their community, develop their self-reliance, access relevant community services and transition to other care environments if necessary. We are committed to working with young people to increase their access and presence in the workforce. Our employment services provide assessment, training and support to young people to identify and promote employment opportunities.
  • Q: Do all children have respite care?

    A:

    Our respite services are designed to meet the needs of children and young people in care while giving Foster Carers or families planned, short-term breaks in order to support and maintain the primary care-giving relationship. Respite is arranged and negotiated on a case by case basis and is often related to the child’s needs. Our services provide for a range of flexible respite alternatives including in-home, centre-based, host family, supported holidays and community options. They provide children and young people with the opportunity to build their support network and develop connections with the community, and include learning and skill development.
  • Q: Can I have my own children and foster other children?

    A:

    Yes you can. Your family situation is considered when making decisions about the age and needs of children you may foster. We have a general guide of placing children in your care who are younger than your youngest child. This allows Foster Carers to focus on each child and address their individual needs. We must also consider if there is enough space in your home to provide security and privacy to all children. In most circumstances, children in foster care will need to have their own bedroom (they may share with their own siblings if this is appropriate). If you have 3 children in a 3 bedroom house, we do not encourage you to move all your children into one bedroom to give a child in care their own room. This can cause stress in your family, where your own children feel displaced. Children in care should not come into a family where some members feel animosity towards them. Their life has been challenging enough without extra stresses imposed on them that we could have avoided with a bit more planning
  • Q: Can I foster even though I don't have my own children?

    A:

    Yes. Through the assessment process, we will look for the skills you have and the skills you might need to develop. From the assessment, we will also make recommendations on the age and needs level of children in care that would be best suited to your skills and experience. For example, we have people from professional ‘care’ roles who are Foster Carers who have skills with behaviour management, medical training or working in fields such as disability. Their skills are transferable to fostering regardless if they have children of their own.
  • Q: What is the age restrictions for Foster Carers?

    A:

    Each State and Territory is different. We prescribe that Foster Carers are a minimum age of 18, however, in SA we require the minimum age is 25, however the suitability assessment will determine each person’s ability to cope with the demands of fostering. There is an expectation that Foster Carers will have sufficient life experience to enable them to meet the needs of children placed with them, and age can be a factor in this. No set upper age requirements, though it is expected that Foster Carers providing long-term care for a child will be able, if necessary, able to continue to care until the child is able to live independently. Many of our more experienced Foster Carers are invaluable to us as emergency and short term carers.
  • Q: How does LWB meet the needs of children who have a disability or a diagnosis such as Autism Spectrum Disorder?

    A:

    We know that being a Foster Carer for any child comes with its challenges. Our Care Team works closely with Foster Carers to identify the child’s specific needs and works out a plan of how this will be achieved. They may be times when a Foster Carer needs extra support, we look at external supports such as Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy or looking for support groups of parents/professionals and Foster Carers with children with the similar needs. Respite is provided to Foster Carers when they may need time to recuperate and recharge for periods of time due to the high or complex care needs of a child.
  • Q: What are you assessing during the approval process?

    A:

    The assessment process is not like sitting an exam. There are no wrong or right answers. We are looking to find out more about your life, your experiences and the skills you have to care for vulnerable children. Everyone in your household is part of the process. There are a few formal components: • Probity checks. These are different in each State and Territory but cover Working with Children Checks and Criminal records checks. • A house suitability assessment – is your home or apartment safe for children? Will the child have their own space? • Medical & Health Checks (provided by yourself and doctor) • Reference checks A series of interviews with yourself and other household members, gives us a broader picture of your skills and experience which helps us make a determination of the type of care you would be best suited to, and to the age and needs level of a child We discuss areas such as: • Why you want to foster, what’s your motivation? • What your skills and experiences are related to children? • Who are your social supports and when do you seek personal support? • Who is part of your life, family and network? • What your parenting style is? • How your own childhood has shaped the adult you are today • How you manage stressful situations and your resilience • Your cultural awareness • How well you function within a team • and how you can provide a safe environment that is free from abuse The pre-approval training also equips new Foster Carers with skills for their new role. The training is 2-3 days depending on State regulations. Further training is arranged for people who need special care skills such as managing Epilepsy, babies withdrawing from in-utero drug exposure, and caring for a child with a feeding tube
  • Q: Do Foster Carers have to complete reports about the children in their care?

    A:

    It is important for us to know what is happening for each and every child in care as well as Court and Government Departments require us to keep documentation of the child's successes, development and where we need to provide extra supports. You will have a support person who can assist you with documentation but yes, there will be some ongoing paperwork.
  • Q: What is Life Story work?

    A:

    Life Story Work involves working with the child to develop their story and help them create memories they will have forever. This is a wonderful opportunity for Foster Carers and children to develop open and strong bonds as you learn about each other. Most of us take for granted all the little bits of knowledge we accumulate in our lives from our family. Such as, “What was the first word I said?” “Have I been to hospital? What happened?” “Where have I been on holidays?” “When did I lose my first tooth?” “What funny little things did I do when…..?” “How did I react when…?” For Life Story Work to be meaningful, it is hoped that the child’s family will also be involved by sharing the child’s life history, achievements, family tree, connections and culture. Children in care often lose track of this information, Life Story Work helps them accumulate their own stories and memories from their life and is essential for children developing their own positive sense of self and identity.
  • Q: Do I have to have my own home to be a Foster Carer?

    A:

    No, Foster Carers need to demonstrate they have safe and suitable premises to foster. This means you can be renting, in public housing, paying off your home or own your home. You can live in an apartment, duplex or house. If you rent or are in public housing, you may need to seek approval to have extra people in your home. This is the responsibility of the Foster Carer to verify.
  • Q: I don't have a spare bedroom, can I still foster?

    A:

    We need to consider if there is enough space in your home to provide security and privacy to all children. We require that Foster Carers have a spare bedroom for children in care to help children feel safe and secure. It may be possible for siblings in foster care to share a bedroom depending on their age and the situation. If you have 3 children in a 3 bedroom house, we do not encourage you to move all your children into one bedroom to give a child in care their own room. This can cause stress in your family, where your own children feel displaced. Children in care should not come into a family where some members feel animosity towards them. Their life has been challenging enough without extra stresses imposed on them that we could have avoided with a bit more planning
  • Q: Can I say 'no' to a placement?

    A:

    Foster Carers can say ‘no’ to a placement if they have particular factors at that time that would mean that a successful placement was less likely. During the assessment process, the assessors will discuss with you the skills and experiences you have, your availability, your own family’s needs and what age, gender, needs levels of children will work best in your family.
  • Q: Can I choose the age and gender of the child?

    A:

    Part of the assessment process is discovering which age and perhaps gender will work best in your household. Some people are open to ages and gender and others, perhaps due to their own personal parenting experiences or their own family make-up, are specific about a particular age and gender. The more specific Foster Carers are about the type of child best suited to their family, may mean it will take longer to find an appropriate match.
  • Q: What support do you provide Foster Carers?

    A:

    We want Foster Carers to feel supported and confident in this important role. We support Foster Carers with: • Debriefings and access to 24/7 support • Care Team • Employee Assistance Program (EAP) • Clinical Support • Respite • Learning & Development (L&D) • Foster Carer Consultation • National Carer Consultation Group (NCCG) • Social Events • Corporate Health Plan • Support for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Foster Carers • Reimbursement Further information can be found on our 'Support For Foster Carers' page
  • Q: How long does it take to become a Foster Carer?

    A:

    We want to make sure that we have explored all avenues with someone before they are approved as a Foster Carer – so speed is not our primary goal, thoroughness is our priority. However, the quick answer is: Our goal is that assessments are completed within 4 months. There are times when delays occur that are out of our control, like the processing of formal police checks and other times when scheduling becomes complicated such as trying to arrange training for a group of people that suits everyone’s schedule, arranging interviews with all household members and so forth. We will always let you know where things are up to and if we expect delays.

Top