Happy foster family with young foster child

The Centacare Foster Care Program is funded by the Department for Child Protection to support foster carers in making a difference in the lives of South Australian children by providing a nurturing, secure and safe home, while the child is unable to live with their birth family.

Children from birth to 17 years of age may require short term care with plans for reunification with their birth family, long term care with the child being under Guardianship of the Minister until the age of 18, or respite foster placements, which provide the full-time carer with a break.

Foster Children

The reasons for a child needing foster care can be varied and every child’s experience is unique. Ensuring the right fit for the carer household and the child is vitally important and Centacare strives to create a positive experience for both parties, through a thorough matching process and consultation.

Children come into foster care from a range of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, usually as a result of complex family situations. Many of the children needing a supportive home have experienced disruption, which may include trauma, harm, abuse or neglect. As a result, children may have complex emotional needs and present with challenging behaviours, and require committed, compassionate and understanding carers.

Foster Carers are Supported

Foster carers supported by Centacare are assisted through the challenges of fostering and reunification through inclusion in a care team, which contributes to case planning and ensures that the child in their care enjoys a stable out-of-home environment.

Placements for children vary in length depending on the nature of the individual’s Guardianship order: short-term arrangements range from six to 18 months of care, while long-term guardianship requires the child to be cared for until they reach 18 years of age. Respite care is provided for the child and is specific to the child’s, and the carer’s, individual needs. Respite care is important in providing a full-time carer with time to recharge, as well as providing the child with the opportunity to share other experiences with the support of another adult and/or their family.

Training and Professional Development

Centacare provides foster carers with their mandatory training, as well as other ongoing training opportunities, professional development, therapeutic resources, assessment and important reading materials to support them in their role.

Carers are required by the Department of Human Services to undertake a series of checks and background screenings, which Centacare will help to facilitate, as well as health checks, home safety checks and conferring with carers’ personal referees and members of their supportive network.

Foster carers are regularly assisted by a Centacare foster carer support worker. In the Reunification program, this is at least weekly in the first two months of caring for a child, then every fortnight, or as required. For general foster care, this is every 2-6 weeks depending on the needs of the child and the carer. Each placement support plan is tailored to the specific needs of the child and that household. In the case of reunification placements, foster care support workers assist in the completion of daily and monthly logs relating to the child.

In addition, all foster carers in the program have access to Centacare’s 24/7 after hours phone support and have the opportunity to attend regular training and support meetings with other carers. Centacare’s carers are able to debrief with their support workers, consult with the Psychiatrist in residence during the therapeutic training refreshers or access Centacare’s EAP counselling service (up to 3 sessions), if needed.

To assist foster carers in maintaining their registration, Centacare conducts fortnightly carer consultation sessions, annual carer reviews, and manages the timely updating of mandatory training and checks.

For further information about becoming a foster carer and the types of foster care that are supported by Centacare, please visit the related pages on this website or contact us to discuss your ideas.