About Children in Foster Care
At LWB we care for children and young people of all ages, each with different needs. We provide foster care across Australia and the type of foster care we provide differs between each State and Territory, due to funding and contractual requirements by each State/Territory’s government.
Babies, infants and toddlers
Quite often babies and infants coming into care have health or medical issues from exposure to drugs in utero and have been neglected or are at risk of abuse or harm. They require compassionate people to see them through the physical and emotional stages of recovery. This can be emotionally challenging and you may need support from friends, family and the child’s professional Care Team.
Other very young children may have issues such as not meeting their developmental milestones and need a lot of encouragement, attention and hands on parenting to help them along the way.
Being a Foster Carer for the 0-5 year olds usually means you need to be free during the day or have flexible working arrangements such as the ability to work from home. Young children in foster care may attend day care but it may not be in their best interests to attend straight away, or to attend more than a day or two a week, and will entirely depend on their development and personal circumstance.
Primary School Age Children
As a Foster Carer for school-aged children you will need patience, resilience and the ability to nurture and support them through their developing years. At this age, children may be frightened, insecure and need a stable, supportive environment as they proceed through their primary years.
Children in care often have attachment issues and need consistency and reinforcement of a sense of belonging from the adults they’re surrounded by including Foster Carers and teachers. Many Foster Carers of school aged children work but still need the same flexibility that all working parents and Foster Carers have for after school hours and school holiday periods.
Young people 12 years and older
In many ways, this group is the most vulnerable. They are moving towards their adult years and have not necessarily had the guidance and support through their younger lives to set them up as confident, secure and happy individuals. Teenagers need consistent, resilient adults who have empathy and can guide them through what can be an emotional time for anyone. In their past, they may not have had many mentors or adults they could look up to so developing a mutual respect and understanding is paramount.
We know that keeping siblings together is better. We always try to find Foster Carers who can take care of sibling groups of two, three, four or more children at the same time, with the capacity to accept the sibling group into their home, but sadly this is not always possible.
If siblings are not able to remain together, we develop contact plans with each of the Foster Carers to ensure the children have regular contact with their brothers and sisters. As a sibling Foster Carer, you would need to have at least one additional spare room in your home, and potentially more, as children may require their own bedroom to afford them privacy and space to be by themselves.
Children with more complex or higher needs require Foster Carers with a different level of skill and understanding. These children have often experienced significant trauma, grief and loss, and as a result will often have complex needs and behaviours, attachment disorders, developmental delays or learning difficulties. Some children require Foster Carers who have more skills working with children with an intellectual or physical disability or medical issues.
Therapeutic or Specialised Foster Carers are highly resilient, calm, patient, nurturing and have a good sense of humour. They may have experience in working in a ‘care’ field such as disability, education, nursing or youth work, or have a commitment to learn how to become a therapeutic Foster Carer, through additional training and specialised support from experts from the health, social and disability sectors.
Trauma & Attachment
You will often the terms ‘trauma and attachment’ associated with children in foster care. Attachment can be defined as the ability to form relationships which is directly related to healthy development and life success. Secure attachments allow children to grow, learn and connect with others. Children in care often need special support to help them learn the skills to build and maintain relationships. They may have lost people early in their lives that were important to them or may not yet have had the chance to form healthy attachments to caregivers. Foster Carers need to support children to build these skills and to maintain the relationships that are important to them with family or significant others.
Life Without Barriers practices from a trauma-informed care model - Trauma at any stage of life is potentially harmful and has a debilitating effect on children’s growth and development. Many children in foster care have experienced trauma either before they came into care or as a result of their care experience. Maintaining resilient non-coercive, safe care environments is essential for children to learn productive responses to stressful situations. Foster Carers are provided with training and support from the Care Team, to ensure we are all working together to decrease the effects of trauma for the children we care for and are responsible for.