There has never been a better time to become a foster carer. More than 450 children each night in the south-west need a foster home. That’s more than we have carers.
If a home is unable to be found, children might need to move out of region – away from their friends, hobbies and culture – adding to an already traumatic experience. But you can make a difference. Opening your heart and home can make all the difference for a child living in care.
So, are you thinking about becoming a foster carer but unsure where to start? Here are 5 things to know about becoming a foster carer in Victoria:
1. Anyone over the age of 21 can apply to become a foster carer
Foster carers from all backgrounds and walks of life are welcome. Whether you’re single, part of a family, married, young or old, working full or part-time or have children of your own, you can become a foster carer. People from mult-icultural and multi-faith backgrounds as well as LGBTIQA+ people are encouraged to apply – we welcome all enquiries.
What matters most is that you are flexible, caring, patient and committed to creating a safe and supportive environment for a child while they can’t live with their family.
2. You don’t need to be an expert or have parenting experience
Not everyone who becomes a foster carer needs to have parenting experience or be an expert in caring for children. This is where the training comes in. All prospective carers receive mandatory foster care training to give you the skills and knowledge you need to get started. Once you become a foster carer, you become part of a care team and are given resources and support from your agency whenever you need it.
You don’t need to be a superhero to be a great foster carer. The most important thing is that you are a caring person, have the child’s best interests at heart and are willing to learn along the way.
3. You choose the type of foster care you want to provide
When you become a foster carer, you have a choice over the length and type of care you provide, as well as the age, gender and number of children for whom you feel comfortable caring. Some foster carers work full-time and may want to foster school age children or foster short term, or some may want to only foster one weekend a month through respite care giving long term foster carers a break. Ultimately it depends on what works best with your lifestyle.
You can also change the type of care you provide at any point and for many carers, once they have taken on a few short-term placements may feel more comfortable taking on long term placements. The choice is all yours.
4. You can stop the recruitment process or say no to a placement at any time
We understand that life happens and that you have other things going on in your life. What a lot of prospective foster carers don’t realise is that you can say no to a foster care placement if it just isn’t the right time for you.
Whilst the recruitment process using takes 6-9 months, you can determine how quickly or slowly you want this process to go and if you want to pause the recruitment process at any time. The most important thing is being transparent with your foster care agency about what is happening in your life. At the end of the day, you need to be able to look after yourself first, to be able to best look after a child.
5. The goal of foster care is to reunite the child with their family as soon as it is safe to do so
Foster care involves providing a child with a safe, stable and loving environment while they cannot live with their family. The aim is, where possible, to return the child to their parents or family when it is safe and appropriate to do so. Foster carers play an important role in helping children retain a positive connection to their birth family while in foster care.
Call 5561 8888 or visit https://brophy.org.au/become-a-brophy-foster-carer/ for more information or to enquire.