Become a life-changer
Say yes to foster care and see how you can change the life of a child or young person in need.
Right now, there are children and young people out there who need a place to call home. By opening your home and your heart, and fostering a child or young person, you could make a real, positive and lasting difference in their lives.
You could be the one that guides them to reach their full potential. You could become a life-changer.
I am a foster carer
Watch stories inspired by real carers to see how, with our support, they are making a difference in a young person’s life.
What is foster care?
Foster care is a frequent response to children and young people who are unable to live with their own families.
As a foster carer, you provide out-of-home care for children and young people in need, offering a safe and secure environment for as long as the child needs.
Often children can be reunited with their families or parents as circumstances change, so foster carers assist with the care of the child until this can be achieved. In other cases, some children and young people will remain in foster care until they reach the legal, independent age of 18.
Foster care can range from a weekend, months or years depending on the circumstances of the child and your own preference in providing care. However, no matter what the length of time is, the positive impact you can have in a child or young person’s life is immeasurable.
Foster care opportunities
Children and their families have different needs and come from many different situations. UnitingCare works with foster carers to ensure children and carers have a match for the type of care that works best for them.
Short-term carers provide ongoing, day-to-day care to children and young people for up to two years while Child Safety works towards reunifying the child with their family. Carers also work closely with Child Safety to help maintain regular contact between the child and their family.
Long-term care gives children a safe and stable home until they are 18 when they can’t return to live with their family.
Some carers provide short breaks for long-term foster and kinship carers. These carers choose when they provide care, such as on weekends or holidays. Often, new carers start out providing short breaks and become full-time foster carers after gaining some experience. Some short-term or long-term carers may also choose to provide short breaks for other carers and children.
Emergency carers provide short-term care at short notice for children who urgently need a place to stay. This may be needed when a child first comes into care while a suitable longer-term carer is identified, or if they need a home while waiting to move to long-term care. Emergency carers often are skilled in helping children who have experienced abuse and trauma. Some short-term or long-term carers may choose to also provide emergency care placements.
Intensive foster care
Children may be placed with carers who provide intensive foster care if they require support for complex and special needs. Support for these carers includes additional training, financial support and short breaks.
Find Foster and Kinship Care opportunities near you
Foster carers and their families are everyday people who volunteer their time and homes to assist in supporting vulnerable children.
You must be:
- 18 years and above.
- An Australian citizen or permanent resident.
- Eligible to hold a blue card (Working with Children check).
You can be:
- Single, married, de facto or in a same-sex relationship
- Renting, buying or own your home
- From any culture or with a diverse range of life experiences
- A parent, or someone who has a strong interest in helping children and young people
We are not too worried about your age, as long as you have the health, energy, and enthusiasm to foster.
We are there to help you through every stage.
Relatives are the preferred resource for children who are unable to live at home with their natural parents or families. Kinship carers are therefore a child’s relative or someone from their close community who take on the carer role. Kinship care enables the child to remain with their extended family or community, maintaining the child’s connection with their family and strengthening those bonds.
Relatives or close community members may be approached for kinship care, or alternatively they can express their interest in providing care for a child that is already in foster care.
Becoming a kinship carer is a significant decision for any family. Being a kinship carer presents specific challenges including needing to redefine what your role is within the family unit, having to defer decision making to Child Safety, possibly having to say “no” to someone close to you due to restrictions based on court orders and sometimes the children’s parents will not be happy that you are caring for their children.
UnitingCare recognises the critical role Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people play in looking after children within families and communities. We are here to help you through every stage of becoming a carer, working with you to keep our kids connected.
Together, we can make a real difference.
At UnitingCare, we’re committed to supporting all foster carers throughout their journey in changing the life of a child or young person. We understand the issues and challenges that foster families may face. Through open communication and respect for each other, we’ll work closely with you in your critical and selfless role as you help children and young people reach their full potential.
The decision to care for a child in your home is one of the most important and rewarding decisions you can make. UnitingCare is here to support and guide you through every stage of your life-changing journey as a foster carer. If you have any questions, require further information or would like to discuss how you can become a life-changer, call us on 1300 554 240. Or fill out our Expression of Interest form and one of our team members will be in touch with you.
A rewarding experience
Becoming a foster carer can be very rewarding. Here are some of the things you may experience while on your journey to changing the life of a child:
- Developing a new and valued relationship.
- Providing a safe home for a child.
- Using your skills and life experiences for the benefit of others.
- Helping children to reach their full potential.
- Helping parents to develop new ways of relating to their children.
- Enhancing your own skills and knowledge.
- Expanding your social and personal contacts.
- Enriching your life.
Experienced carers say the rewards far outweigh the challenges, and are most often found in the day-to-day moments that they experience through sharing their lives with children.
How are foster carers matched with children?
Each child is matched to an approved foster carer based on a range of criteria that aims to promote stability and long-lasting relationships. All foster families receive ongoing support and training to maintain their capacity to care and assist them to meet the changing needs of the child in their care.
Who can foster carers call for emergency assistance?
UnitingCare provides an after-hours on-call service from 5pm-9am weekdays and 24/7 on weekends and public holidays. Carers can contact this service to receive support, advice and to report matters.
Why is it important for a child to maintain contact with their family?
The relationships that children in care have with their families can be complex. However, it is important to remember that they are family regardless. Where possible, family contact can contribute to a child’s sense of self and is also important when working towards reunifying a child with their family.
Contact can include phone calls, letters, emails and face-to-face contact, depending on what Child Safety deems appropriate and safe for the child. As a carer, you may be asked to participate in transporting a child to family contact arrangements.
Do foster carers receive financial support?
A fortnightly caring allowance is provided by the Queensland Government to foster carers to help meet the day-to-day costs of caring. The allowance is not an income or wage for providing care. Dependent on individual circumstances, carers may also be entitled to access additional support via Centrelink.
Can I take a child in my care on holidays?
Carers can travel with a child in their care anywhere within Queensland via non-air travel without prior approval from Child Safety. You should always notify your Child Safety Officer about any overnight travel. Any travel arrangements made should not interfere with family contact or other parts of a child’s routine, such as schooling. All interstate or overseas travel will require permission from Child Safety. You will need to allow plenty of time for approvals to be processed.
Will I get a break?
Some carers may find that providing ongoing care for a child who has experienced trauma can at times be demanding and in some cases carers may need a break. There are options to support carers, such a short break care that can be provided as a one-off or as a regular part of the care management of a child.
Can children change schools?
It is important for children who are coming into care that much of their familiar environment is maintained. A change of school is a decision that usually remains with the child’s guardian, therefore any requests for a change of school needs to be approved by Child Safety prior to enrolment.
Will children arrive with any belongings?
Some children will arrive with their own belongings but others may not. We encourage carers to have basic personal care supplies, such as toothbrushes, deodorant and soap, available for children when they first enter your home. You will also need to purchase necessities for your child in care, as well as any items that may help them to settle into your home more smoothly, for example items to personalise their bedroom or schooling needs.
Become a carer
Right now, there are children and young people out there who could use your help.
Next Step After Care
Next Step After Care services provide young people aged 15 -21 who have been in foster care or other out-of-home care arrangements with support to build independent lives.
Our residential care service provides placements for children and young people in houses where care is provided by a team of rostered employees.
UnitingCare works hard to provide young people with support to live engaging lives and build resilience, from one-on-one support to education and advocacy.
We work with families facing difficulty and offer help when it is most needed, from strengthening your family unit to keeping your children safe at home.