Foster care is the temporary care of children and young people up to age 17 by trained and accredited foster carers.
As a foster carer, you can play an important role in a child’s life, even with a small contribution of your time.
What does a foster carer do?
The role of foster carers is to create a safe and supportive home for a child while their parents and families get back on their feet. Foster carers are part of the child or young person’s care team, which includes the foster care agency and the child’s birth family.
As a foster carer, you create a safe and supportive home for a child in care, until that child can return to their family. You can care for all types of children, from newborn babies to young people up to age 17.
When a child or young person first comes into foster care, the aim is to support the parents to have their child or young person return to their care as soon as it is safely possible. Foster carers are part of the child or young person’s care team, which includes the foster care agency and the child’s birth family as well as the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing. You also play a key role in supporting family reunification.
You can care for one child or more at any one time, for just a couple of nights a month up to six months or more, depending on your preference.
You can also discuss with your foster care agency the age range, genders and number of children you are comfortable with staying in your home, prior to becoming an accredited foster carer.
Learn more about the accreditation process.
How long does a foster care placement last?
The length of a placement depends on the type of foster care that you choose to provide to suit your personal circumstances. There are four main types of foster care:
Respite Care is short-term and/or intermittent care provided for children and young people living with full-time foster and kinship carers or parents, often for one or two weekends a month, or for a week during school holidays, or as required.
Short Term Care is for children and young people who require care ranging from overnight up to about six months. Children and young people requiring short-term care are often reunified with their parents, or may be placed with extended family at the end of the foster care placement.
Long Term Care is arranged when a child or young person cannot return home for some time. Long-term foster care may cease when a permanent care arrangement is organised, or when the child or young person reaches adulthood and becomes independent.
Emergency Care is for children and young people who require immediate care due to concerns for their safety. Because these placements are urgent, there is usually very little notice before a child or young person is placed with a carer. They often occur in the night.
How do I become a foster carer?
To become a foster carer, you need to be trained and accredited by a local foster care agency. There are many foster care agencies across Victoria.
Enquire through Fostering Connections
You can give us a call on 1800 013 088 to speak to a foster care connection specialist, or you can enquire online. We will then connect you with a suitable foster care agency in your local area.
Contact a local foster care agency directly
If you know which agency you would like to foster with, you can reach out to them directly via their website. You can find out more about the foster care agencies in Victoria here.
Once you’ve connected with an agency, they will help you decide if foster care is right for you. Then, they’ll support you through the foster care training and accreditation process.
What support do I receive as a carer?
Foster care is a volunteer role where the goal is to return the child or young person to their family when it's safe or appropriate.
Agency and care team support
When you become a foster carer, your agency is there to support you every step of the way, from recruitment, to your placement and saying goodbye.
While you are responsible for caring for children day-to-day, you are also part of a care team that makes joint decisions regarding the child in your care. This team includes your foster care agency and the Victorian Government’s Department of Families, Fairness and Housing.
In addition to support from your agency, you also receive financial support to cover the day-to-day costs of fostering, such as:
- day-to-day care requirements
Find out more about care allowances and other financial supports here.
Foster Care Association of Victoria
The Foster Care Association of Victoria (FCAV) is another resource that provides foster carer advocacy, information and support when you need it. Once you’re an accredited foster carer, your agency will assist you in joining FCAV. FCAV also offer training and education for foster carers through Carer Kafe.
Learn more about the supports and resources available to you as a foster carer.
Can a foster care placement become permanent?
If you are interested in becoming the parent or permanent guardian of a child or young person, it’s worth considering permanent care or adoption instead.
Caring for someone in your family—either a relative and/or family friend—is called kinship care. Find out more about kinship care in Victoria.
Looking for more information?
If you're thinking about becoming a foster carer, but not quite ready to submit an enquiry, we're always available to provide support and answer any questions you have.
Give us a call on 1800 013 088.