In South Australia, Foster Care is often referred to as ‘out of home care’. Out of home care provides children and young people with a secure, safe home when they are unable to live with their parents. The reasons behind this can be varied. Most children will have experienced disruption, some may have been abused or neglected. Every child’s experience will be unique. Which is why it is so important to fit the right carer to the right child.
Types of Foster Care
1. Types of caring
Specialist foster carers care for children and young people with complex needs either because of the trauma and abuse or because of children’s disabilities or special needs. Carers undertake extra training and get additional support.
This type of care involves having a child in your care for short stays. This could be regular weekends, school holidays or one-off overnight stays. Respite care gives longer-term foster carers a break and allows children to build new relationships and have new experiences.
Emergency foster care may involve an overnight stay or last for up to two weeks. Carers who provide emergency care can be contacted at short notice at any time of the day.
Short-term care can last from two weeks to two years. The aim is to give the birth family some time to manage a difficult issue. The child may then return to their birth family if it’s appropriate, or they may be placed in long-term care.
For some children, returning to their birth family is not possible. Long-term care is provided until family circumstances change or until the child turns 18. Centacare’s Specialist Family Preservation Foster Care Program is classed as ‘specialist care’. Centacare also has long-term carers for children who are not able to return to their birth families.
2. The children
Children come into foster care at all ages and from a range of cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. Children usually come into care as a result of complex family situations and are likely to have experienced neglect or abuse. Children in foster care may have challenging behaviour as a result of their experiences and require committed and understanding carers.
3. Family reunification
Reunification is the planned process of returning children from out of home care placements to the care of their birth families. Reunification requires the input of carers, professionals and birth family members working together to create a safe and stable environment for the child. We call this the ‘care-team’ around the child.
4. The benefits
Foster carers are in a position to contribute and make a difference to a child’s life. Supporting the process of reunification and reuniting a child with their birth family can be an extremely rewarding experience for foster carers. Centacare provides foster carers with extensive training and support to help them in the task of caring for foster children and to give carers the necessary skills to support children who have experienced trauma, grief or loss.