To get advice specific to your situation and your family, give us a call on 1800 013 088.
To become a foster carer, you will first need to connect with a foster care agency. You will then be required to complete training and pass relevant background checks.
To learn more about the step-by-step process of becoming a foster carer, click here.
There are four main types of foster care that you can provide; long-term, short-term, respite and emergency. When you become a foster carer you can choose the types of care that best suit you and your circumstances.
To learn more about the different types of foster care, click here.
On average it takes six to nine months to become an accredited foster carer. However, everyone’s circumstances are different. This process is a collaboration between you and your agency, who will schedule visits, organise training and assessments at a pace that suits you.
Yes. Foster carers from all walks of life are encouraged to become foster carers including people working full-time. Whilst you are working full-time, your foster care agency may recommend that you care for school age children or perhaps provide respite care.
You can discuss your specific situation with your foster care agency or give Fostering Connections a call on 1800 013 088.
Non-permanent residents or non-Australian citizens can be accredited to provide respite care or emergency care.
New Zealand citizens are eligible to become foster carers in Victoria if they are subject to a Special Category Visa (SCV).
Non-Australian citizens or non-permanent resident carers may be considered to provide longer term care for a particular child if it is in that child’s best interests; for example, if the carers intend to stay in Australia and are from the same cultural background as a child requiring care.
All accredited foster carers must hold a current Working with Children Check, and complete annual Victorian Police Checks. Agencies are required to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the children in care. Some offences, like sexual or physical abuse (particularly towards a child) will rule you out, while other offences may not. It is important to discuss any criminal history with your agency upfront. Minor historic issues may not impact your eligibility to be a carer, so please discuss your circumstances with your agency early on.
Yes. Children in foster care need privacy and a neutral space to call their own. This means you need to have one spare bedroom in order to become a foster carer. Some agencies may accept people without spare bedrooms to care for babies but this is on a case-by-case basis.
Yes. Both partners need to go through the accreditation process together. Other adults living in your home will need to attend training and go through the same background checks.
Yes. When you become a foster carer you can decide the ages and the gender of the children that you would like to provide care for.
For example, you may already have children in the home and may want to keep the gender consistent or you may be more comfortable caring for teenagers.
The choice is all yours.
You will receive a care allowance. This allowance is not a ‘payment’ for being a carer, but is there to cover day-to-day expenses of fostering. This includes food, clothing, basic personal items, transport, pocket money and entertainment.
The care allowance is provided by DFFH and is tax free. You can find out more about the care allowance on the DFFH website.
When you become a foster carer, you are supported every step of the way. Every child is assigned a case worker who will be your main point of contact at your foster care agency All foster care agencies have 24/7 on-call workers so you can access support at any time of the day.
There are also carer support groups and events that you can join and free training that you can attend to build your skills.
There is also the Foster Care Assocation of Victoria which provides support and advocacy for foster carers. This includes the Carer Assistance Program, a free counselling and support service and the Carer Helpdesk to assist with administrative issues.
No. As a foster carer, you can decide when you want a child to come and stay. You can also decide to take a break in between children coming into your care. Whilst there is a great need for foster carers, your well-being is the first priority.
Yes. Most children and young people in foster care will have contact with their families.
Family contact plans are determined by the child's Case Plan or the Children’s Court. The child or young person’s safety is always the main priority and each situation is assessed individually. Most children in foster care have contact with their family unless there is a very good reason not to. Most children in foster care enjoy seeing their families and family contact is an important way to keep them in touch with their culture and community. Children in foster care get a lot of benefit out of seeing a positive relationship between their foster carers and their birth family, and your agency will help facilitate this in any way that is appropriate for your placement.
For Aboriginal children it is especially important to ensure they have contact with their families and communities, especially if they are placed with a non-Aboriginal carer. Aboriginal children need to remain connected to their family and community to ensure a sense of belonging and development of their cultural identity. If you are caring for an Aboriginal child, they will have a Cultural Care Plan, which ensures they have access to everything they need to maintain those ties.
In many cases, foster carers are not required to supervise family contact visits. Your agency will provide support around family contact.
The aim of foster care is to provide temporary care to children with the aim of the child returning to their birth family. If the Children’s Court decide the child will not be returning to their family, discussions will occur on a case-by-case basis as to whether the child moves into a long-term foster care placement or permanent care.
Before a child comes and stays with you, your agency will share as much information about the child as possible so that you can decide if it is right for you.
Before accepting a child to come a stay, you can ask as many questions as you like such as:
- If they have medical needs, and how to take care of them
- Their current routine: whether they attend child care, kindergarten, school or work
- Their behavioural needs and support they may require