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What is Foster Care?

When children in our community are unable to live with their parents or family for their own safety or well being, they need another family or person to live with and care for them. These people are known as Foster Carers.

Children in foster care can range from 0-18 years and come from all walks of life. They are often frightened and vulnerable when they first go into foster care. They need compassionate and resilient adults in their lives to show them that they are important and valued.

Why do children come into foster care?

  • They may be at risk of harm
  • They may been abused or neglected at home
  • Their parents may be unable to cope with their care needs. 

In many cases, the aim is to reunite children with their families, but sometimes this isn’t possible so we also need to long-term Foster Carers available for children unable to return home to their family.*

How long are children in foster care?

Children can be in foster care for short or long periods or until they become independent, based on their particular circumstance. Because one size doesn’t fit all, there are many types of foster care to meet each individual child’s situation. These include:

  • Emergency, immediate or crisis care – this is usually one night up to a few weeks for children needing immediate care in the short term.
  • Short-term care – from a couple of weeks up to 2 years. 
  • Long-term care – for children who are unable or unlikely to return to their family. Long-term foster care means that a child has the opportunity to become part of a Foster Family and may include children moving towards adoption. 
  • Respite care –Respite Foster Carers usually care for the children one or two weekends per month or for other short periods, such as for school holidays. This gives other Foster Carers or families a break and often is available to people who have children with higher needs.

Children in foster care have a support network in place specifically for them. A Care team at a support agency such as Life Without Barriers is with them every step of the way to advocate for them and ensure their best interest is always at the centre of every decision made. Foster Carers work in partnership with specialist case workers at the agency, the child or young person and where possible, the child’s family.

Children in care have parents and families that love them. No matter what has happened in the past most children want and need to maintain connections and have relationships with their families. It is important that ]Foster Carers support these connections in ways that suit the children in their care. This can range from facilitating regular family contact, sharing family activities and working in partnership with parents and family to plan the child’s future care.

* Please note: Foster Care programs vary dependent on which State or Territory you reside.