Become a Carer
Most people considering foster care are in it
for the right reasons. They are good souls with the time and energy to devote
to a child who needs stability, love, guidance and self-worth. Before proceeding,
think if this is the right time and ensure that your family and friends are
willing to go on this journey with you.
Reasons why you should foster:
- You can. You have the time, energy, empathy and spirit to help a child look forward to a positive future.
- You want to play your part within your community. You see there is a need to find children safe and loving homes. You have the skills and ability.
- You love kids and you are great with them. You are at a time in your life where you have developed skills which allow you to understand how to communicate with children. You love being around kids and helping them to develop.
- You have been there. You may have had a rocky childhood and therefore you understand trauma, grief and loss. You know your life experience has taught you how to be strong, resilient and brave and you can help a child take their own steps forward.
- You know it can work. You know someone who is a foster carer or you grew up in a foster family. You have seen how really solid and positive foster care placements can change the lives of children. You know you have the ability, compassion and time; you know you can help.
Reasons why you should defer fostering:
- Your child wants a playmate. Children in care are not there to meet the needs of your family. You are fostering because you want to meet the needs of a child. If your children are settled, happy and don’t mind their own company but also love being around other children, fostering could be for you.
- Can you manage a child with challenging behaviours? Many children in Out of home care have difficulties as a result of their disordered childhood and ALL need extra time, attention and consistency. Some children can be very challenging, are you really up for this?
- Your own grief and loss. If you have unresolved issues from traumas such as unsuccessful IVF or having lost a child, then having a child come into your family as a ‘replacement’ is not healthy. It’s not to say you should give fostering a miss altogether, it just might be a ‘not right now’.
- A calling. If you have a need foster a child because of your faith or a sense of ‘duty’, foster care is not a good avenue to take. The child needs to know you are there for them in every way and not because they are a ‘project’ or ‘calling’ for you.
- Everyone isn’t as keen as you are. If you are a couple and/or if you have children at home absolutely everyone needs to be committed to becoming a foster family, if not, don’t do it.
- The Empty-Nest. If you have raised your own children, you may have the experience and knowledge to really help a child progress, but if you are looking at the child filling a void in your own heart because your children have left home, this is a quick road to disaster particularly for the child.
- You Need the Money. You receive a reimbursement for the time children are in your care, but it should never replace a wage. Being a foster carer does not mean you cannot work, particularly if children are school age. It just means you need the same flexibility in the workplace as every other parent. The carer allowance helps you provide a life for a child in care so that they do not miss out on the opportunities other children have.
- Is this a good time for our family to become a foster family?
- Are you already going through significant changes?
- Are your children in the final years of study?
- Have you recently had new members to your family or lost someone?
- Are your current routines and demands flexible? Can you adapt due to changing plans and unexpected situations?
- Has the whole family been involved with the decision to foster? Is everyone in agreement? Will everyone help the new child feel welcome, settled and part of the family?
- Are you prepared for the personal and detailed questions that will be asked during the interview process? Are you prepared to work with the care team which means having them in your home on a regular basis?
- Are you open to talk about any difficulties you may have and are you willing to ask for support and advice if you need it? Are you willing to attend training and continually new ways to help and support a child in care.
How do I become a
From start to finish, the process to become a foster carer usually takes around 3 months and involves a combination of assessments, interviews, training and background checks. NT Friendship and support will help you obtain an ochre card, National police check and a Child protection check. We also do reference checks, medical checks and a safety check of your home for potential safety issues relevant to foster caring.
You and your family (or people residing with you) will be part of an assessment process. This competency based assessment is to ascertain:
what your skills are and your willingness to attend training as required, such as first aid training and fire safety training
your motivation for becoming a foster carer
your coping and support mechanisms
the age and needs of the children that would suit your family and experiences
your ability to provide a supportive and caring environment for children and to keep children safe from harm
You are encouraged to ask lots of questions about the process and the role of foster caring throughout the assessment.
National Police check
Having a criminal record does not automatically disqualify you from becoming a foster carer. Child-related and serious offences will prohibit you from working with children, but for other offences NT Friendship and Support will look at the nature of the offence/s, the length of time since offending and other features.
It’s our standard procedure to check criminal records early in the application process, so NT Friendship and Support appreciates your honesty so that we can discuss any convictions you may have as early as possible. Any information shared with us remains strictly confidential at all times.
Once all the checks and assessments are completed, NT friendship and support will contact you to discuss the progress of your application to become a foster carer. You will either be approved or informed why you have not.
Once you have been approved to provide foster care, we will discuss with you the child/ren they feel may be suitable placement options for your family. You will be contacted when a child or children match your criteria. You will then decide if you will proceed with the placement.
We usually start with a short term placement as an introduction into foster caring to see if it works for you and your family.