Frequently Asked Questions about becoming a Specialist Foster Carer
What foster care payments or financial assistance is available?
Specialist reunification foster carers and respite carers receive a tax-free allowance, school card, and health care card for the child, specific to the program, in order to cover most of the additional costs of caring for a foster child. In addition to this allowance, additional benefits from Centrelink may be available depending on your circumstances. Please contact us for further information.
What is the process of becoming a Centacare foster carer?
Following a foster carer enquiry, an “Information Pack for Potential Foster Carers” is sent to the potential carer. If the potential carer is interested in applying they send back the “Registration of Interest” form attached.
An “Information Exchange Session” is arranged with the potential foster carer household and Centacare Foster Care Support Worker to discuss becoming a foster carer in more detail.
If after the session, the potential foster carer decides to continue the process of becoming a carer, they complete the application form.
Potential carers then participate in a training program and a series of assessment interviews. The assessment is not something that is a pass or fail, but a process to discover whether fostering is a suitable option for the potential carer at that time.
What checks are carried out?
The assessment process includes a medical check, criminal record check, accommodation check and referee check.
A previous criminal conviction does not automatically disqualify someone from fostering. It depends on the nature of the conviction and when it took place.
The screening will include a DCSI Child Protection check.
What types of foster care does Centacare provide?
Reunification Foster Care: for children 0-17 years who have been assessed as suitable to enter a reunification plan with their birth families. The placements are short term, 12-18 months, and require a high level of intervention from carers within the case plan.
Respite Foster Care: To support foster carers within the programs with regular periods of respite. This may be for regular weekends or additional periods of times during holidays.
Longterm Foster Care: On a case by case basis for children 0-17 years
Will there be contact with the birth family?
Most children in care have ongoing contact with their birth families. The frequency varies and the level of contact is based on the child’s case plan. Applicants need to understand the importance of a child’s origins and culture and the commitment to maintaining relationships between the child and birth family, and therefore be willing to facilitate contact.
What training is provided?
A training program is completed prior to registration as a carer to help give a better understanding of the foster carer role and help equip carers with the skills they need.
The sessions cover areas like bonding & attachment, grief & loss, abuse & trauma, identity & birth family contact, responding to challenging behaviour, and maintaining cultural connections.
All foster carers are required to do Senior First Aid and Child Safe Environments training.
Infant Safe training is an additional requirement for those interested in caring for young children (0-2).
What support is available to foster families?
All foster carers have a support worker who will provide supervision and support through regular visits and phone calls. There is also an after-hours service so you receive 24/7 support.
Carers will also have access to respite.
It is essential that children have access to a smoke-free environment. Potential carers will be required to provide a smoke-free living environment.
What choice do carers have in the children being placed?
Foster carers can discuss with Centacare what type of care they think may be suited to their family.
Preferences about the age and gender of a child they think would fit best with their family and lifestyle can be given too.
Workers will always discuss placements with carers to make sure the placement is appropriate.
What about pets?
Most children respond to animals positively. Your assessment will consider the individual needs of your pets against any child being placed in your care.