Deciding to foster a child in need is life changing and worthwhile. A child removed from their birth family receives a safe and nurturing home and foster carers report the joy of caring for the child, the satisfaction of seeing the child’s progress, and the sense that they are giving back to the community.
Providing a safe home for children at short notice when they are first removed from their families. Placement might be from a couple of nights to a couple of weeks.
Short term placements can last from a few months to up to two years while the Children’s Court is determining the long term plan for the child.
The Children’s Court has determined that the child will stay in foster care until they are 18 so the child needs a permanent home. Long term placements can lead to adoption from foster care or a Guardianship Order.
Respite carers support children in care by offering them time-limited placements such as one weekend a month or brief stays in school holidays. Respite carers often provide care for the same child on a regular basis for a minimum of twelve months.
There is a thorough screening and assessment process to ensure that children are placed in safe homes with carers who are able to meet their needs. The process of applying for all programs is the same and is supported by Anglicare’s Carer Recruitment Team.
Applicants wishing to be authorised to provide long term placements with a view to adoption can be authorised as foster carers and prospective adoptive parents upfront, which streamlines the court process for adoption. Anglicare is able to offer this as one of only 3 of the 51 non-government agencies in NSW that offers adoption services as well as foster care.
Research and initial enquiry: thinking about your family situation and contacting Anglicare to discuss your interest.
Preliminary interview: Two case managers will visit your home to discuss your family situation, give more information about Anglicare’s programs, and answer your questions.
Training: All prospective carers attend Anglicare’s three day training course.
Assessment: After submitting your formal application, two case managers will complete 4-6 interviews with all household members to complete a report assessing your suitability to be approved as foster carers.
Placement: If you're approved to become an Anglicare foster carer, the team will then be in contact about child/ren or young people you could care for!
Different agencies may have some slightly different process, so read on for a detailed explanation of the process with Anglicare!
Choosing to foster children who have suffered from abuse or neglect is a meaningful and rewarding thing to do. However, foster care isn't necessarily a fit for everyone as there are numerous emotional and practical factors to consider. Ask yourself questions like these:
Do I have the time and space to care for another child?
Can I provide a safe home for a child for a year or two while plans are made for them to return to their family?
Do I want to provide a short term placement, or a long term placement that could lead to adoption?
Would I be able to look after children with additional learning or physical needs?
Can I support a child to be part of my family and to remain connected with their birth family?
In the initial phone conversation with Anglicare’s Carer Recruitment Team, you can ask any questions you would like about Anglicare’s programs. You will be sent some more information and invited to proceed if you are eligible.
If you wish to continue with your enquiry, two case managers will arrange a time to meet with you in your home. They will ask you some questions about your family, your routines, your health, and what kinds of placements you would like to provide. You have an opportunity to ask any questions you have about foster care and adoption and explore what type of care would be the best fit for your family. At the end of this visit, you are left with an Expression of Interest form to formally document your interest in fostering or adopting a child.
All prospective carers who have submitted a satisfactory Expression of Interest form will be invited to Anglicare’s next Prepare to Care course which prepares applicants for foster care and adoption. The three day course is held regularly throughout the year, and there are options to complete it during the week or on Saturdays.
The course covers topics such as the needs of children who are placed in foster care or adoption, the value of continued connection to their birth family and culture, how to care for a child who has experienced trauma, and how to work with Anglicare. On the final day, there is a panel of foster carers and adoptive parents who share their experiences.
On completion of the course, you receive a nomination form which you can return to Anglicare to indicate which programs you would like to apply for. Your application pack is then mailed to you. You need to complete your application form and nominate two personal referees that Anglicare can contact. The application pack includes police checks, working with children checks and medical checks completed by your GP. You also need to complete a first aid course for children prior to approval.
After completing all the paperwork in your application pack and returning it to Anglicare, two case managers will be allocated to complete your assessment. The assessment consists of four to six interviews in your home and workers speak with all members of the household, including children. The assessment covers topics such as your family and relationships, your capacity to meet the needs of a child placed in your care, and what type of child your family can best care for. There is a thorough home safety check to ensure that your home is a safe environment for a child.
Case managers write up an assessment report and you receive a copy. A panel from the foster care team will review this report and make a decision about your approval as foster carers and/or prospective adoptive parents. You are notified in writing about the outcome of your application.
If you are approved as foster carers and/or prospective adoptive parents, you are then placed in the relevant ‘pool’ of carers (e.g. short term or long term) awaiting placements. The Anglicare team will keep in contact with you regarding potential referrals. Children requiring care have a wide variety of needs, and the Anglicare team will carefully consider how to match each child or sibling group with the family that can best care for them. Considerations include the age and gender or a child, their cultural background, the child’s medical or educational needs, and the frequency and location of their contact with their birth family.
Once a placement has been made, you will be supported by an Anglicare case manager during the placement. They will keep in contact with you with regular home visits and phone calls and they will support the case plan for the child. There is a tax free Carer Allowance provided to assist with meeting the day-to-day needs of the foster child. Anglicare has social events for foster carers and events for your children too, so everyone in the family feels supported while fostering.
Think you are ready to take the bold step into caring for vulnerable children?