Foster caring comes in all shapes and sizes and depends largely on the situation of the child, their history, and the care you want to provide. When you become a foster carer, you will have different options on what type of care you can provide to children who have not had the best start in life. Foster care varies from short-term and emergency care to long-term fostering and fostering with a view to open adoption. It’s important to understand what’s involved in each different foster care option – let’s take a look.
Becoming a Foster Carer
Providing a stable, therapeutic and caring environment for a child or young person can be a very rewarding journey for you. You can have a significant positive impact on a child’s life that may make the world of difference – not only to the child but also to their birth family.
The process of becoming a foster carer involves participating in an information session in your home with our staff. Following this information, session applicants register their interest, obtain probity including NSW Working With Children Check and National Police Checks, and then attend two days of Shared Lives training with accredited trainers. After training is complete applicants are provided additional application paperwork to complete prior to engaging with an assessor to complete a full Step by Step foster care assessment to measure suitability. Once the assessment is complete a comprehensive report is completed along with recommendations that are submitted to the Carer Panel to determine suitability.
Relative and kinship care
Relative or kinship care is when a child or young person lives with a relative or someone they already know. The preferred option is for children and young people to remain with relatives and kin - ideally where the child already has relationships and connections. We hope that staying with family can be a stable, permanent solution for these children and can assist relatives and kinship carers to apply for legal guardianship to ensure this.
Short term Foster Care
Short-term foster care is when a family provides care and shelter for a child or young person for a short period of time. This can be anywhere between a single night placement to up to a year.
Sometimes, a child or young person may need somewhere safe to stay immediately for a night to a few weeks or months. This is called emergency foster care. A child may need emergency care while they wait for a more suitable care placement to be arranged. Emergency situations are often unpredictable and can result in taking children on very short notice.
Emergency foster carers need to be available to provide care at short notice, after hours, and on the weekends.
Restoration care is for a limited time, with the goal being that the child returns to their family. Depending on the age of the child or young person, they will stay in foster care for a night up to approximately two years before either being restored to family or placed into long-term foster care.
A child may also be placed in short-term foster care because of an emergency e.g. family crisis, or illness. Or they may have been removed from their parents to ensure their safety and wellbeing.
Respite care involves caring for a foster child for a night, one weekend per month, or during school holidays. It is important each child in long-term foster care have a regular respite carer, so they have the opportunity to build relationships and connections with others. Another example of respite care is when a child is unable to attend school for whatever reason, and their long-term foster carer is not able to stay at home.
Long term Foster Care
Some children can no longer live with their families and need a safe, supportive and loving environment to grow up in. This may be until their family’s circumstances change or until they turn 18 years old. Children going into long-term foster care have complex physical and emotional needs and need loving carer/s who have the time to provide the support necessary.
Fostering with a view to guardianship
Sometimes after a few years, a carer might feel like the child they have been fostering is part of the family. If carers would like this, they can apply to become the child’s guardian until they are 18 years old. The court will then decide whether this arrangement is in the child’s best interest and whether the carers can care for the child without the support of UPA Youth Care.
Fostering with a view to open adoption
If carers want to adopt their foster child, they can apply to do so, as they would apply for guardianship of the child. The difference is that the child will then legally become part of the carer’s family for the rest of their life. After adoption, the child must stay in contact with their birth family and it becomes the responsibility of the adoptive parents to support, promote and facilitate family time with the child’s birth family.
Learn more about Fostering
If you’d like to learn more about what fostering involves, there are lots of resources on the UPA Youth Care website or the My Forever Family website. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us to arrange a personalised one-on-one information sharing session with one of our staff.