What you really need to know if you’re considering becoming a foster carer

A woman and a young child hug as they smile and laugh at each other

What you really need to know if you’re considering becoming a foster carer

With more than 300 children in NSW awaiting placements with foster carers, Uniting are appealing for people to help.

The not-for-profit organisation currently has 380 children placed in foster care in NSW and states now is the time for those interested to make the leap.

Here’s a checklist of what you need to know before getting in touch with Uniting.

  1. You must:
  • Create a cosy space by having a spare room for the child/ren to sleep in. Younger siblings may be able to share, but going into adolescence, they need their own room.
  • Get anything that’s broken or worn fixed. You’ll need to pass a home compliance check so ensure your home is a safe environment.
  • Secure a Working with Children Check.
  1. Consider thoroughly the impact this will have on your life:
  • You need to prepare any other children in your care. Foster children have often been exposed to different language and behaviours that could be confronting to youngsters.
  • Be prepared to be guided by experienced caseworkers on how to manage challenging behaviours. Not all parenting is the same.
  • You may have lots of paediatric, counselling, birth family visits and other appointments to regularly keep. You may also have to frequently visit the child’s school for appointments, often without prior notice. You’ll need to be flexible.
  • Get your extended family on board to help. If they will be playing an active part in supporting you, they’ll need to have some checks done also, but Uniting will organise and pay for these.
  1. You will not be alone
  • Uniting provides essential foster carertraining spread out over 2-3 days or as a series of evening sessions.  This essential training is open to anyone older than 16 in the home.
  • Further training is offered regularly through a variety of methods including online, face to face and through educational articles discussed with your caseworker.
  • You will be visited by a Uniting support caseworkerat least monthly at your home and they are available on the phone when you need them.
  • You will be given a 24 hour helpline for any help you may need.
  • It usually takes six to nine months from the moment you submit your application to us to the moment you are ready to take care of your first child. This timeframe includes mandatory criminal record check, community services check, referees and home safety and medical checks.
  1. The biggest fears Uniting hears from people wanting to care are:
  • People worry about making contact with the child’s birth parents. You will be working with us to determine how to make that work for you and the kids in your care. Uniting can offer soft introductions where case workers are present too. We’ll offer you training to understand how important birth family contact is for a child’s self identity and how you can support them through that. We also assess all visits for safety concerns.
  • There is a lot of paperwork and checks because the children remain under the Minister’s Care and it’s necessary to ensure we are ensuring the safety of children in care. Uniting can help with all of this.
  • People worry they will not be able to ‘fix’ the child, their journey allows them to realise this is not the task they are being asked. Your role is simple, be safe, stable and offer lots of love and connection.
  1. You are enough!
  • Many people worry they cannot offer everything a child needs – but what children really need is a stable home, a routine and love – who would struggle to offer that?

Who can become a foster carer?

  • You need to be over the age of 18.
  • You can be a couple, a single person, defacto, an older person, a same-sex couple – it doesn’t matter.
  • You need to be in good health – able to keep up with the children both physically and mentally. If you have a health condition, we just need to know how it affects you and to ensure it doesn’t affect your capacity to care or impact on the children.
  • You need to be an Australian Citizen or permanent resident.
  • You can work full-time, part time or not at all – you just need to ensure you can be flexible enough to meet the needs of the child. This can be done through a team approach, especially if you have family to help support you.
  • You must be renting or owning your home.

Get in touch

If you’d like to chat to Uniting further you can contact us on 1800 864 846 or you can find out more about foster care.

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