Foster Care

 

Say Yes to Foster Care - you could change a life forever

The decision to care for a child in your home is one of the most important and rewarding choices you can make. UnitingCare Community is here to guide individuals, couples or families through every stage of your life-changing journey as a foster carer.

We believe passionately that every child and young person deserves the opportunity to reach their potential and enjoy a safe and nurturing childhood.

We work hard to develop and maintain close, professional relationships with our carers with the aim of providing safe and nurturing places for children and young people to grow and develop.

Lonely girl cuddling dog

 

Sound like something you could do?

You can fill out an enquiry form to start the process today!

Explore further to find out if fostering is right for you

 

Becoming a foster carer

Becoming a foster carer has a number of steps to ensure you are ready and well prepared for this rewarding journey.  UnitingCare Community will explain and help you through each step.

 

Diagram of steps to become a foster carer

Download a factsheet to read more about the steps in becoming a foster carer.

 

Who can apply to SAY YES to foster care?

Foster carers and their families are everyday people who volunteer their time and homes to assist in supporting vulnerable children.

You must be:

  • 18 years and above
  • an Australian citizen or permanent resident
  • eligible to hold a blue card (Working with Children check).

You can be:

  • single, married, de facto or in a same sex relationship
  • renting, buying or own your home
  • working or not working
  • from any culture or with a diverse range of life experiences
  • a parent, or someone who has a strong interest in helping children and young people
  • flexible in age, as long as you have the health, energy, and enthusiasm to foster

Carer hugged by child

 

Sound like something you could do?

You can fill out an enquiry form to start the process.

 

Types of foster care

Children and their families have different needs and come from many different situations.

UnitingCare Community works with our foster carers to ensure children and carers have a match for the type of care which works best for them.

Types of foster care images

Short-term care

Short-term foster and kinship carers provide full-time, ongoing, day-to-day care for children for up to two years, while the Department of Communities - Child Safety Services work towards reunifying the child with their family. During this time, the carers are actively working with the child, the foster care team and the Department to progress the goal of safely returning the child to their family.

Long-term care

Long-term care involves providing children a safe and stable home as they are unable to live with their own family. Long-term carers commit to the ongoing full-time care of a child up to 18 years of age.

Intensive care

Intensive foster care requires a carer who has a passion to care for a child with complex needs or may have specialised skills to be able to support them in this role. This may include medical, behavioural, mental health, and diagnosed disabilities. Carers receive additional training and support from UnitingCare Community to help meet the needs of the children in their care.

Short break care

Short break care assists other foster carers who are supporting a child full-time but require a short break. Foster carers who are able to provide a short break to a child are able to choose when they can provide care, for example, on weekends or holiday periods.

Emergency care

Emergency carers are available to provide short-term care at short notice (evenings or on weekends) for children who urgently need a place to stay.

 

Kinship care

Kinship carers are relatives or members of a child’s social network. Alternative family or community members are usually approached to become a kinship carer when it is assessed that a child is unable to live at home. Alternatively, you may express an interest in caring for a child from your immediate family or community who is already in care.

Becoming a kinship carer is a serious decision for any family. It is a commitment that should not be made without prior discussion and consideration of the change and challenge that is part of the kinship carer experience. It is important that you take time to speak with your partner, your children and any other significant people in your life to consider the impact that being a kinship carer may have.

Being a kinship carer presents special challenges including needing to redefine what your role is within the family unit, having to defer decision making to Child Safety, possibly having to say “no” to someone close to you due restrictions based on court orders and sometimes the child/ren’s parents will not be happy that you are caring for their child/ren.

Family outside house

 

Rewards and challenges

Foster care is a unique experience and has many rewards and challenges. Our carers tell us the rewards outweigh the challenges.

The rewards

  • Helping to keep children and young people safe.
  • Helping children and young people reach their full potential.
  • Helping children and young people to reconnect with the families and significant people in their lives.
  • Using skills and life experiences for the benefit of others.
  • Enhancing your own parenting skills and knowledge.
  • Being a highly valued and contributing member of a caring team.
  • Expanding your social and personal contacts.

The challenges

  • Managing your own children’s feelings about sharing you, their home and their lives.
  • Responding to children’s behaviours that you may not have previously experienced.
  • Being able to say goodbye to children when they leave to return to their families.
  • Feeling confident that children will be safe when they leave your care.
  • Finding space in your life for yourself when so many demands will be made on your time and energy.
  • Being able to persevere when the observable changes may be small or non-existent.
  • Sharing the decision-making for the children placed with you.

Experienced carers say the rewards far outweigh the challenges, and are most often found in the day-today moments that they experience through sharing their lives with children. UnitingCare Community staff are here to help you through the challenging times as well, you won't feel alone!

Child and carer holding hands

 

We will support you as a foster or kinship carer

UnitingCare Community help and support carers as informal and formal support is important to ensure that you are not alone in your journey. UnitingCare Community supports you as a foster and kinship carer through:

  • Home visits
  • Telephone calls
  • Information about your role and fit within the Child Protection system
  • Specialised training
  • Creating a community of like-minded individuals and families through hosting events for carers and children
  • Arranging short breaks from providing care
  • Attending meetings alongside you
  • Communicating with Child Safety Services and other support services engaged with the child
  • Government fortnightly allowance.

 

Carer experiences - Stories from those who said YES

Being a foster carer is a powerful experience. We want to share with you the many stories that we have about our wonderful foster and kinship carers. Without the wonderful dedication of foster and kinship carers we wouldn't be able to continue to help Queensland children in need.

Please note that all names in these stories have been changed to protect the families and children that are part of our UnitingCare Community family.

Jenny and Malcolm
Patrick and Eric
Harling's family

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How are foster carers matched with children and young people?

Each child and young person is matched to an approved foster carer based on a range of criteria that aims to promote stability and long-lasting relationships. All our foster families receive ongoing support and training to maintain their capacity to care and assist them to meet the changing needs of the child or young person in their care.

Q. Is there someone foster carers can call for emergency assistance?

We provide an after hours oncall service (from 5pm to 9am weekdays and 24/7 weekends and public holidays) for foster and kinship carers to receive support, advice and reporting matters.

Q. Why is family contact important for a child in foster care?

Children in care need contact with their families. It is important for their physical and emotional wellbeing and their sense of self. Family contact can include phone calls, letters, emails, and face-to-face contact. As a carer you may be asked to participate in transporting a child to family contact arrangements.

Q. Do foster carers receive financial support?

A fortnightly caring allowance is provided by the Queensland Government to foster and kinship carers to help meet the day-to-day costs of caring. It is not an income for providing care. The amount of the fortnightly caring allowance will vary depending on the child’s ages and specific needs. Dependent on individual circumstances carers may also be entitled to access additional support via Centrelink.

Q. Can I take a foster child on holidays?

You should always let your Child Safety Officer know about any overnight travel. You can take a child in your care on non-air travel anywhere within Queensland without prior approval from Child Safety as long it doesn’t interfere with family contact or other parts of the child’s routine such as schooling. You will need permission from Child Safety to take a child overseas. You will need plenty of time for these approvals to be processed.

Q. Will I get a break?

Providing full time care for a child who has experienced trauma can sometimes be demanding and carers may need a break. Short breaks can be provided as a one off or as a regular part of the care management of a young person and support to the carer.

Q. Can children change schools?

It is important for children and young people that are coming into care that as much of their familiar environment is maintained. A change of school is a decision that usually remains with the child’s guardian therefore any requests for a change of school needs to be approved prior to enrolment.

Q. Will children arrive with any belongings?

Depending on what has happened for the child or young person they may arrive with very little personal belongings. We encourage carers to have basic personal care supplies such as toothbrushes, deodorant and soap, to provide to children and young people when they enter your home.

 

Information about staff

Staff within UnitingCare Community Foster and Kinship Care services have training in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI) and the CARE framework as this is the model we embrace as our practice and model of service delivery.

CARE Framework

Care assumes an overriding framework for good practice and best interests of the child with:

  • Consistency in purpose, values, principles and actions
  • Reciprocity in the interactions between people within the organisation
  • Cohesiveness or wholeness within the system of care.

The basic principles that guide the care framework are:

  • Developmentally focused (to build resilience)
  • Family involved
  • Relationship based
  • Competence centred
  • Trauma informed
  • Ecologically oriented.

 

SAY YES to foster care

If after exploring this page you think you have the ability to take on the responsibility of a foster care child we would love to hear from you. Get in touch today by calling 1300 554 240 or call your local office to find out more.

You can fill out an enquiry form to start the process today!

Boy in the air

 

 

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