Becoming a Foster Carer is one of the most rewarding things you can do, one where you truly make a difference to a child or young person’s life.
Brophy Foster Care is the only 24/7 local response Agency for foster families in the south west Victorian region – we are looking forward to working beside you every step of the way
First up, we want you to know that we provide training to you before you begin foster caring, so if it’s something you have never done before you can be assured that you’ll have the right training upfront, and that this training will continue throughout the rest of your fostering journey.
Being a Foster Carer is one of the most important roles you can play in our community. There is a critical shortage of Foster Carers and by becoming a Brophy Foster Carer you will be making a huge difference in a child’s life.
The difference you can make is immeasurable.
Even the shortest period of time in your care can have a lifelong impact for a child or young person. Being given the opportunity to experience a positive family life environment helps foster children learn that the world can be a safe and good place to live.
You may give them their first experience of Christmas, being read to, having adequate toys to play with, celebrating their birthdays as well as gaining a sense of achievement and confidence as they learn new skills.
What is Foster Care?
Foster Care is where, in their own home, Foster Carers provide a safe, supportive living environment for children and young people who need to live away from their families on a temporary or long term basis.
Children and young people who need foster care range from newborns to young people 18 years of age and may come into care as an individual or with their siblings. They can come from different cultural backgrounds and have different strengths, experiences, needs and personalities.
Many children and young people who need foster care support have challenging behaviours as they may have experienced some form of abuse, neglect or have broken attachments with their own families. Foster Carers have a child or young person live with them in their family home for as long as needed. This can be days, weeks, months or even years.
In most cases the aim of foster care is to reunite children with their own families, although this is not always possible.
There are various types of Foster Care:
- VOLUNTARY PLACEMENTS
Voluntary referrals can be made directly to Brophy by a child or young person’s parents, extended family members, the young person themselves or others from specific care Agencies on their behalf. Placement types can include short-term, respite, medium or long-term placements and emergency.
Voluntary placements can also occur when the Department of Human Services (DHS) Child Protection requests a placement while they are assessing whether or not further child protection involvement is required.
- STATUTORY PLACEMENTS
All statutory referrals are made by the DHS Regional Placement Co-ordinators. All children and young people in statutory placements are subject to a form of a Children’s Court order.
Respite: Respite Carers provide planned care for a child or young person for a short period of time, typically one or two weekends a month. Respite carers support the child’s parents, guardians or foster carers by giving them a break and providing the child with the opportunity to experience a different home environment.
Emergency: Emergency Carers provide care for children and young people when there are immediate risks for their safety. Usually emergency carers will be called at short notice to provide care and the child would stay for a short period of time while a longer term care plan is established.
Short term: Short-term Carers generally provide care to a child or young person for a period of up to six months. There is usually a plan in place for the child or young person to return to his or her birth families or guardians after they have accessed the support they need to improve their ability to care for a child.
Medium-long term: Medium-long term Carers provide much needed stability, safety and security for vulnerable children and young people needing foster care. These children typically cannot return home for a longer period of time, if at all, and may need your support for a period of years or until they reach adulthood.
What does being a Foster Carer involve?
Foster Carers provide care, support and stability for a child or young person in a caring home environment. They may also help children and young people to keep in touch with their birth families and other significant people.
As part of their role, carers support the day to day care needs of children and young people, just like those who live with their own families. Foster Carers need to have a genuine commitment to providing a safe, nurturing living environment for children and young people; they need to be prepared to understand why they may behave in certain ways and to be patient and perceptive in dealing with their needs and an acceptance of individual diversity and difference.
Foster Carers become part of what is known as a care team. A care team is a group of people who share the parenting responsibilities for a child or young person while they are living away from their family.
The care team usually involves the parents, the Foster Carer, Foster Care Placement workers, Child Protection representatives and other health professionals – all working together on the creating the best options for the support and care of the child or young person.
Foster Carers need to be committed to working with the care team of the child or young person to create the best opportunity for them to feel safe, valued and to achieve the life they want.
Who can become a Foster Carer?
We need Foster Carers from all backgrounds and walks of life!
They can be:
- Individuals, couples or part of a family.
- Part time or full time workers or those at home full time.
- Culturally, religiously and ethnically diverse, male or female who come from a range of age groups.
- People who have children living at home, a grown-up family or have never had children
The most important thing is a willingness to open your home to a child or young person who has had a challenging start to life.
As part of the Foster Carer assessment process a number of screening checks are required, including a health check, referee check, home and environment check, Police Check and a Working with Children Check.
Anyone else 18 years and over living in your household will need to have a Police Check and in some circumstances a Working with Children Check.
You will be required to attend training before being approved as a Foster Carer and commencing in the role of caring for children and young people.
How do you become a Foster Carer?
Becoming an accredited Foster Carer takes between 4-6 months and we will be with you every step of the way.
First step is to attend an information session where you can meet some of our team, hear from them about our Foster Care Program and ask any questions you have.
Then from there, if you are keen to proceed, we will arrange a home visit. This is another opportunity to ask us anything you want to know about foster caring and it’s also our chance to get to know you and see if you can provide suitable care for a child or young person. Then if all parties agree, we set up the mandatory checks (such as Police and Working with Children Checks), and invite you to attend the Foster Care training and assessment program.
Our Engagement team will then facilitate the ‘Shared Lives’ foster care training (the state-wide framework in Victoria), providing up-to-date information about foster caring. You will also receive a comprehensive range of resources, to support you throughout your foster care journey.
Once you’ve finished the training, we meet with you for assessment interviews. In these we discuss how being a Foster Carer would look in your household, how Brophy will support you as a Foster Carer and the types of foster care you are interested in.
After completing the training and assessment process, a panel of Brophy staff and external representatives may accredit you as a Foster Carer. Once you are accredited, we will match a child or young person with you.
What Support do Foster Carers have available to them?
UNIQUE FAMILIES, UNIQUE SOLUTIONS
- We will support you to choose the type of foster care that best suits your household.
- You will be able to choose the length of time a child or young person stays with you – a weekend, a week, a month, a year or longer. We understand that you and your household are unique.
- We work with you and the children in your care to ensure a good fit.
A dedicated case-worker will be with you every step of the way. You will become part of a Foster Care Support Group for further networking support.
There is no such thing as a silly question. You can say no, and we are here to help. We strive to keep you informed at all times. Regular communication will be provided to our carers from our Engagement and Placement teams.
ABLE TO ACT
We live in your community and our hotline is available 24/7 locally, so we are here, on call to support you at all times.
If you are unsure of how to handle a situation or just need to talk about something happening with one of the children or young people in your care, you only need to call.
What should I consider about becoming a Foster Carer?
If you are considering becoming a Foster Carer you’l need to ask yourself and your family a number of questions.
Lifestyle changes: Having a child or young person living with you may require a number of lifestyle changes. Are you and your family able to adjust to additional members? If you have children, think carefully about their needs and make sure you talk to them about this.
Financial Responsibilities: Despite the care allowance, you may still find the costs of providing care difficult, especially for a child with special needs. It’s important you consider these financial costs before becoming a Foster Carer, particularly if the costs will affect your own life or retirement plans.
Behaviours: Children in Foster Care may display difficult behaviour at times. The experience of managing challenging behaviours can at times be frustrating. For each step forward there may be two steps backwards. It is important to recognise that the child or young person may have had a number of difficult experiences including eparation, grief and loss. How do you feel you will cope in dealing with these behaviours and experiences?
Challenges: Caring for a child or young person in care can be challenging. Foster Carers need to have enough time and energy and space available (both physically and emotionally). Is this the right time for you and your family to be facing these types of challenges?
Natural family and reunification: Where possible children and young people in foster care are reunited back with their family. The decision making process and the need to help children and young people move on can sometimes raise a number of issues and feelings for Foster Carers related to their own values. Are you prepared to consider these things when making a decision to become a Foster Carer?