The process of becoming a foster parent/carer takes up to five months from application through to approval. There are a number of steps to be taken by applicants, including participating in training, undergoing checks and engaging in assessment visits. Centacare acknowledges that individuals and families come to foster care with their unique set of circumstances, and encourages applicants to work through the process at their own pace.

The first step in the foster care process is to contact the Centacare foster care team on telephone (08) 8159 1431 or email

We will take this opportunity to answer your initial questions, collect some details from you and send you our Centacare Foster Care Information Pack.

Information Sessions

Anyone interested in becoming a foster carer is invited to attend a one-hour information session, held at various times and locations around metropolitan Adelaide. Please register for Information Sessions on our website or contact a member of our foster care team to ask about upcoming information sessions. If the times, dates and locations of the sessions are not suitable to you, our foster care team can arrange a personal meeting at one of our Centacare offices during business hours. Family and friends are welcome to come along to any of our information sessions.

Information Exchange

Following attendance at an information session, two members of our support team will visit your home to meet with you and, if applicable, your family. This session allows for a more in-depth discussion about the requirements of foster care and the training and assessment process, whilst also answering any questions that have arisen for you. About an hour is allocated for this information exchange, which will be booked around your availability.

Application Form

If you have met the required criteria through the information exchange and you are committed to becoming a foster parent, we will invite you to attend the Shared Lives orientation training and on completion you may be invited to complete a foster care application form. This form activates the next stage of mandatory checks, including the initiation of your Child Related Employment Screening (CRES) clearance by the Department of Human Services (DHS), (see ‘Checks’ below) and you will then be allocated an assessor.

Training and Assessment

Training and development is an ongoing commitment, which begins during the assessment process and continues for approved carers. The assessment training including “Shared Lives”, “Provide First Aid”, “Infant Safety” (for carers wanting to care for infants) and “Safe Environments for Children for Children and Young People” are mandatory training as part of the assessment process. Centacare is a child-safe and culturally aware agency and therefore have agency mandated training for applicants including “Child Sex Offender Awareness” and “Aboriginal Cultural Awareness” training.

An assessor, either a Centacare staff member or Centacare contracted assessor, will conduct your in-home foster care assessment. In couple households, both adult applicants are required to undertake the foster care training and assessment. The assessment process is the same for short-term, long-term, specialist or respite foster care. As part of the assessment process, applicant’s children are interviewed and their views are included in the assessment.

Please note that applicants do not pay the fees attached to the Department of Human Services (DHS) clearances or any cost in relation to any of the training programs.

If you have already completed any of the following training programs and your accreditation is up to date, Centacare will need to sight original certificates for copying and secure storing.

Step by Step

As a potential Centacare foster carer, you will be assessed using the competency-based assessment tool called “Step by Step, South Australia, 2017” which is endorsed by the Department for Child Protection. The tool addresses five competencies including providing a safe environment, attitudes and connections, personal resilience, child-focused nurture, and working with others.

The assessor will explore your experiences, knowledge, skills, and attitudes to gather evidence in meeting the competencies. This process has been designed to be open and transparent and if an assessor feels they have not gained sufficient evidence in meeting a particular competency, this will be shared and discussed during the visits.

During these appointments, you will be invited to talk through any issues that arise, to gain a deeper understanding of what is involved in being a foster parent and carer. The assessor can be flexible in booking appointments that suit your availability.

Caring for Aboriginal Children

If during your assessment, you and/or your family decide that you would like to care for an Aboriginal child(ren) in your home, you will be required to be assessed for the B5 ‘Aboriginal Cultural Responsiveness’ competency. This process is undertaken by one of our Aboriginal assessors.


There are several checks that potential foster carers need to satisfy, these include:

  • A criminal history check and background screening by Department of Human Services (DHS) to obtain the Child Related Employment Screening (CRES) clearance (formerly known as the DCSI Working with Children check).
  • A health check, comprising a health self-assessment to be completed by the applicant(s) and signed off by the applicant(s) general practitioner. This process certifies that you are in reasonable health and not suffering from a medical condition that would hinder your ability to care for the child(ren) in your home.
  • A home safety check, with requirements depending on the age of the child(ren) in your care. Time is allowed for you to prepare your home and identify any risks in line with the home safety checklist that is provided at the beginning of your assessment. A final home safety check is conducted by your assessor at the end of your assessment and prior to the submission of your application for final approval.
  • Personal references are undertaken to assess your suitability and capabilities of caring for children. Members of your identified support network will also be contacted.
  • Where children are involved from a previous relationship and there is a shared care arrangement, ex-partners are required to provide their consent to the foster care application process. Children will be interviewed by the assessor, to ensure their voice is heard and their views incorporated in the assessment.

If you and your family already have current CRES DHS checks we will simply require you to provide the original for Centacare to copy and keep securely on file.


Foster care applicants are required to complete a series of training programs, training that is Centacare-run (such as Shared Lives, Aboriginal Cultural Awareness) and training that is facilitated externally (such as Provide First Aid and Infant Safety). All training will be booked in and the costs covered by Centacare. If you have already completed any of the trainings below, we will simply require you to provide the original certificate of completion for verification and for Centacare to copy and keep securely on file.

Shared Lives

The Shared Lives Orientation training is delivered by Centacare staff on a 6-weekly basis, and serves as the official training package for foster carers across Australia. The training also acts as a premise for potential foster carers to evaluate whether the role is suited to them or their family.

Applicants are required to attend two consecutive Saturday sessions from 9.30am to 4.30pm, as part of their mandatory training in the assessment process. Shared Lives Part 1 consists of nine modules delivered during 2 days, covering issues relating to children in care, their response to trauma, family contact and managing difficult behaviours. Shared Lives Part 2 occurs in the applicant’s home, when the assessment is scheduled to be signed and submitted for approval and outlines relevant agency policies and information.

Shared Lives Part 1 sessions fill quickly, so applicants are encouraged to book in to the training at the information exchange, prior to submitting their application to become a foster parent/carer.

Safe Environments for Children & Young People – Through Their Eyes

Safe Environments for Children and Young People is a one-day nationally recognised training program that covers the responsibilities of mandatory reporting for those working with children. The full course is 7 hours and can be undertaken online or by attending a 1-day workshop (previously called Child Safe Environments).

Provide First Aid

The Provide First Aid training course is run by the Red Cross and covers first aid response, casualty management and life support in a range of situations, until the arrival of medical assistance. The program runs for one day for practical and online study, or a two-day practical course. There are a range of weekday and weekend courses at a host of locations around Adelaide.

Aboriginal Cultural Awareness

Centacare is an inclusive Aboriginal culture-aware organisation. All Centacare staff are required to undertake Aboriginal Cultural Awareness training upon commencement of their employment. This requirement is extended to our foster carers in our Centacare Foster Care Program. This training is a one-day practical program delivered at the Otherway Centre, Stepney.

Child Sex Offender Awareness Training

Child Sex Offender Awareness training is a three-hour compulsory one-off session for all foster care applicants. It provides applicants with information on how to make young people and the organisation safe and covers sexual abuse indicators, how to respond to suspicions/disclosures and profiles and behaviours (grooming) of sex offenders.

Infant Safety Training

The Infant Safety Training is mandatory for those who are looking to care for children aged 0-2 in the Centacare Foster Care Program, and optional for other applicants. The three-hour practical program is provided at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital through Kidsafe SA.

Ongoing Training

Training is an ongoing commitment and Centacare provides the following training for approved carers:

SpACE – a model of Therapeutic responses for children who have experienced trauma

One-day (5 hour) SpACE training founded on the Dan Hughes PACE model. This training covers Safety, Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy as a response to trauma-based behaviours. The training also covers attachment, shame and how trauma effects the brain. Once carers have completed the full day of SpACE training, the program offers 3 X 2-hour SpACE refreshers during the year, in which carers unpack any difficulties with trauma-based behaviours they may be experiencing, in a group setting, with the Psychiatrist in residence.

Therapeutic Crisis Intervention for families (TCI-F)

The Therapeutic Crisis Intervention for families (TCI-F) presents a trauma-informed crisis prevention and intervention model designed to teach carers how to help children & young people learn constructive ways to handle crisis and regulate stressful feelings of hurt, failure, frustration and anger. The training provides carers with practical strategies, has role plays and written test at the end and is conducted over 4 X 6-hour sessions.

Management of Actual or Potential Aggression (MAPA)

Developing and practicing non-physical methods for preventing and managing disruptive behaviours, to provide carers with skills to address any behaviours that have the potential to escalate into disruptive incidents. This one-day (7 hour) training is mandatory for Centacare Foster Carers with foster children aged 2 years and over, as Centacare Foster Care is a non-restrictive agency.

Logbook Training

Keeping a daily logbook is a requirement for specialist reunification carers in the program. Logbook training is two-hours and covers the legalities of a logbook, ensuring incidents are recorded and how to effectively log.

Submission and approval

Once your training and assessment is complete, including CRES DHS clearances and all other checks, your assessor will complete your assessment reports and recommendations and a copy of Report 1 will be provided to you, to ensure the information is accurate and reflective. Please note that referee checks remain confidential.

Once you have signed your assessment Report 1, Centacare will review the final assessment report with recommendations and submit it for approval by the Carer Approval Review Unit (CARU) that operates within the Department for Child Protection in South Australia.

Please contact Centacare with any questions you have about the process of becoming a foster parent and carer.