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What is foster care?

Foster carers provide a safe and 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 up to 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.

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 years.

It can be full-time or part-time. Even caring for a child one weekend a month can make a massive difference!

In most cases the aim of foster care is to reunite children with their biological families although this is not always possible. 


There are various types of foster care: 


Voluntary referrals can be made directly to Brophy by a child or young person’s parents, extended family members, or the affected young person.

They can also come 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 Health and Human Services (DHHS) Child Protection requests a placement while they are assessing whether or not further child protection involvement is required. 



    All children and young people in statutory placements are subject to a form of a Children’s Court order. Statutory placements always come from DHHS.

    Respite: Respite carers provide planned care for a child or young person for a short period of time, usually 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. 

    Emergency: Emergency carers provide care for children and young people when there are immediate risks to 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 stability, safety and security for vulnerable children and young people needing foster care. These children usually can’t return home for a longer period of time and might need support for years or until they reach adulthood.