Becoming a foster carer takes time and dedication but it’s worth it when you change a child or young person's life for the better. Here's how the general process works. It usually takes between three and six months.
Step 1. Connect with the right foster care agency.
When you have enough information and you feel ready, apply to connect with a local foster care agency.
Once you’ve sent an application through Fostering Connections, your local agency will read your application and respond by phone or email within two business days.
Your agency will chat with you about the process of becoming an accredited foster carer and what's expected. This is a good opportunity to decide if the agency you’ve applied with is the right fit for you too.
Step 2. Get more detailed information from your foster care agency.
Many foster care agencies run information sessions. These sessions are a great opportunity to get the details you need, meet other foster carers or support people, and learn about the next steps in your agency’s process. Some foster care agencies can do the same thing for you over a cup of tea in the privacy of your own home.
Step 3. Complete the relevant checks and formal training.
You will have to complete:
- a general health check,
- referee checks (only for the person in the household applying to become a foster carer), and
- checks to confirm your house will make a suitable home.
In addition, you and all adults in the household will have to complete:
- a police check, and
- a Working with Children Check.
Your foster care agency will provide support in completing each of these requirements.
During the assessment process your foster care agency—usually your case worker—will come to visit your home to ensure it’s safe and secure. Together, you will work through all the assessments needed to become a foster carer. You will also participate in two days of face-to-face training to help you prepare for the experience of being a foster carer. These training sessions are flexible and offered at various dates and times that suit your schedule.
Step 4. Learn the outcome of your panel review.
Following the completion of your assessment, a report of your training and assessment is sent to an accreditation panel for approval. The panel is made up of staff from your foster care agency and at least one representative from The Department of Health and Human Services.
Once the panel grants your approval, you will be asked to sign a code of conduct agreement. You will then be an accredited foster carer. It is a requirement that the safety of the carer's home and environment is monitored regularly through home visits and is formally reviewed annually.
Once you’re an accredited foster carer, your care agency will offer free membership to the Foster Care Association of Victoria (FCAV) who provide additional support for extra training, information and other help if you need it.
Step 5. Prepare for a foster care placement when you're ready.
After you’ve been accredited, your foster care agency will be in touch about a child or young person in your area needing care who has been identified as an appropriate fit for you. This is known as ‘foster care placement’.
Whether an agency gets in touch about a potential child or young person for you to care for depends on a number of things, including the types of foster care you are accredited to provide, as well as the age-range, genders and number of children you have told the agency you are comfortable with staying in your home.
Learn more about the different types of foster care accreditation available to you.
Remember, you can always let an agency know that you can’t accept a placement when they contact you.
If you are available for placement, your agency will match you with one of their foster care case workers, who is your main contact for information, advice and support while the child or young person is in your care.
Looking for extra detail or more information?
If you're thinking about applying to become a foster carer, we're always available to provide support, information, and guidance.