Frequently Asked Questions about becoming a Specialist Foster Carer
- What financial assistance is available?
- What is the process of becoming a specialist foster carer?
- What checks are carried out?
- What types of specialist foster care does Centacare provide?
- Will there be contact with the birth family?
- What training is provided?
- What support is available to foster families?
- What choice do carers have in the children being placed?
- What about pets?
Specialist reunification 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.
Following a 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 carer household and Centacare Foster Care Support Worker to discuss becoming a carer in more detail.
- If after the session the potential 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.
- 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.
- Reunification: 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: 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.
- 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.
- 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 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).
- All carers have a support worker who will provide supervision and support through regular visits and phone calls. There is also an after-hours service.
- 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.
- Carers can discuss with Workers 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.
- Most children respond to animals positively. Your assessment will consider the individual needs of your pets against any child being placed in your care.