Below are some commonly asked questions about becoming a Foster Carer. If all your questions are not answered please email the FCRT on email@example.com or phone one of our team members on 1800 732 522.
What is foster Care?
Foster care is a temporary arrangement to secure the safety of children when they are unable to live with their own families. It provides children with a family environment for as long as needed until they can return to their families or until they exit care, generally at 18 years of age.
Communities Tasmania is a government organisation and provides foster care to children under legal orders from the Children’s Court of Tasmania.
Am I eligible to be a carer?
Sometimes people think that if they are single, unemployed, working full time or have never had children that they cannot be approved as foster carers. This is not true! Just as there are many children needing care, we need all sorts of people to match with their needs. In short – it takes a village and we at Communities Tasmania are building a community to care for Tasmanian children who are unable to live at home. Our focus will be on providing the best care situation possible for our children and matching what you are reasonably able to provide with your work and family commitments.
Communities Tasmania welcomes any person to apply to become a foster carer. You can be single, married or in a de facto relationship, including same sex relationships. You may identify as a member of the LGBTQI community or come from a different cultural or religious background. We can assist people where English is not their first language and in situations where communication can be difficult, by providing access to government approved and accredited Translating and Interpreting Services (TIS) to help them through the process. However, you do need to be an Australian Citizen or Permanent Resident in order to be a foster carer.
We welcome individuals or couples who identify as Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander to apply as Aboriginal kinship carers to support Aboriginal children who may require care.
No matter what your circumstances, fostering is a big step and we encourage you to talk to your friends and family to make sure it is right for you.
Why do children need foster care?
There are circumstances under which children or young people, cannot safely, or securely, live with their own family.
This does not mean that children will always be removed from their family and enter OoHC. Communities Tasmania, Child Safety Service want children and young people to be safe, secure and able to develop to their full potential. Every effort is made to support families to address any issues of concern so that children can remain at home. For further information please refer to the Strong Families Safe Kids website
Where this is not successful and the child remains at risk of being hurt, Child Safety Service may need to intervene and apply to the court for a legal order to protect the child and provide them with a safe place outside the home until it is safe for them to live with their parents.
Communities Tasmania is a statutory organisation, meaning that it works under legislation, in this case the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1997. Child Safety cannot place a child with a foster carer unless there is a legal status allowing the child to be removed from their family and placed in foster care.
Sometimes children are placed in care voluntarily, following a family crisis where parents are not able to care for their children.
Children are more likely to enter care on emergency orders including Warrant or legal requirement to secure their safety. An Assessment Order then enables us to investigate any harm that may have occurred. If children need to stay in foster care for longer, we use Child Protection Orders that can extend to 18 years.
What is the difference between foster and kinship care?
Foster care is the care of children who are not biologically related to the foster family. Communities Tasmania is committed to maintaining children within their families of origin where it is safe to do so. If that cannot occur and children need to be removed for their protection, a kinship care placement will be sought with an extended family member or relative. If no family placement is available children may be placed with a foster carer.
What is reunification?
Children belong with their families and the goal of Communities Tasmania is to reunify children with their birth families as soon as possible where it is safe to do so. Reunification is sometimes a challenging and emotional time for carer families as they form a close bond with the child and worry about what will happen to them after they leave. Successful reunification relies on the support of carers helping the child to feel safe and transition back to their families.
Why foster? Is it right for our family?
Caring for children/young people who have experienced abuse and trauma can have its challenges. But lots of carers say that they are rewarded by being able to make a difference in the life of a child/young person and to help them reach their full potential and to realise their hopes and dreams. Research shows that the expected developmental, health and education outcomes for children/young people who are placed with quality foster carers are greatly improved.
Foster carers often report that their lives and those of family members, are changed for the better by helping children/young people who cannot live at home. Making the decision and commitment to care for a child and to become a foster carer, has far reaching benefits for all involved.
Communities Tasmania will assist you to gain and understanding of the OoHC foster care system and expectations of carers by providing training and support before and after you agree to become a carer.
Are there age requirements for carers?
Carers generally need to be over 21 to begin fostering. Whatever your age, the most important thing for us is that you are young at heart and have the energy to be able to care for active children and young people, learning what young people are interested in and contemporary parenting strategies. In some circumstances, there may be considerations for any health implications, but this will be discussed at the time of application and a medical review requested as part of your assessment. Your age and capacity to meet the needs of a child will form part of the matching process before a child is placed in your care.
Can I be single and foster?
You can be a carer if you are a single male or female, have a partner or identify as a member of the LGBTQI community. We even have siblings who are carers as well as parent/adult child who provide care. We ask that your married/defacto relationship is of at least two years duration and that you and your partner are both committed to fostering. Caring for children who have experienced developmental trauma can be hard work and we need you to work as part of a team when you are fostering.
You and your partner/spouse will need to attend foster care training, and both take part in the Step by Step foster care assessment (this is the assessment process for everyone who wants to become a foster carer with Communities Tasmania). We strongly suggest that adult children still living in the home attend all or part of the training as well.
Do I need a Working with Vulnerable People Check to be a carer?
It is a requirement for any person over the age of 16 years, working in a regulated activity to hold or be eligible for current Working with Vulnerable People (WWVP) Registration. Without WWVP registration you are not able to be a foster carer.
Foster carers are required to provide proof of registration and renewal to Communities Tasmania.
Experience with Children and young people
Carer applicants do not need to have raised their own family or to have their own children. However, what helps is that you have had some experience with children through extended family or work settings.
Children and young people of all ages need carers who are fun loving and can help them learn through age appropriate structured and unstructured play, both indoors and outdoors.
If you have a family of your own, we prefer to place children who are slightly younger than your youngest family member. Because we know that babies need lots of bonding and attachment in the first year, we will not place children in a household where there is already an infant or where a child is expected. This is a time when we encourage you to prepare for the approaching birth and focus on bonding and attaching with your newborn.
Foster Care and Fertility Treatment
Some people choose to do fostering because they are unable to have their own children and have undergone or are considering IVF. The last cycle of fertility treatment must have been completed at least 12 months before you can be assessed as a potential foster carer as fertility treatment can be taxing on your body and relationships. Where there is failed IVF you need time to grieve any loss. Children in care need a lot of mental and physical energy and you need time to focus on you and your partner.
Can I be a carer if I rent my home?
To be a great foster carer, you don’t need to own your home. You do however need to have safe and stable accommodation and the space to house a child or young person. If you are renovating it may not be possible to proceed with your approval until all the renovations are completed. If you are renting, it is recommended that you check with your landlord before commencing with an application to become a foster carer.
Do children and young people need their own room?
It is essential that a bedroom is available, although this can be shared if children are of the same age and the same gender. Children need their own space to store their belongings or to display personal items, photos or toys. Some of our children are not able to share rooms for a variety of reasons and may need a separate bedroom.
Girls and boys sharing rooms are not permitted except for very young children or where there are special circumstances.
Children are not permitted to share rooms with adults.
Teenagers, 13 and up, need their own space and it is not recommended that carers ask their teenage children to share a room with a child coming into their care.
Does Communities Tasmania buy furniture or equipment for foster children?
You will be asked to provide whatever toys and equipment are needed for the age and stage of the children you are approved to care for.
Any furniture, including baby equipment, bunks and outdoor equipment should comply with the relevant Australian Standards. Baby walkers are not permitted and there are special permissions needed for children riding motor bikes. Quad bikes are not permitted for children in care due to safety issues.
Your home should have a fenced area where young children can play outside safely. Pets and children interacting must be fully supervised and any outside play spaces must be free of pet droppings. It is recommended that sand pits are covered when not in use.
Pool compliance is required by law. If you have a backyard swimming pool, you will be asked to provide a council compliance certificate. Smaller pools may need to be fenced with pool safety fencing or emptied after use to prevent accidental drownings.
A Safe Home Safe Practices Check will be conducted, and you will be asked to provide any relevant safety equipment for the age of the child you will be caring for. This may include baby capsules, car seats and seatbelts, bike helmets, power point plugs and a safety strap for your flat screen TV.
Carers are also asked to carry home contents insurance.
Education of children and young people in foster care?
The education of children who come into care is often disrupted by their experience of abuse and neglect. This means that they have some difficulties with classroom concentration, participation, as well as having difficulty retaining information or following direction. Some children are unable to attend full time schooling or need alternative programs to help them integrate back into the classroom, form healthy relationships and build friendship groups.
My partner and I both work
Your employment status will form part of the Step by Step Assessment, however, carers can work. It does help if you are able to be flexible, in times of need but there is no expectation that you be at home all day every day. However, some of our children may need a home where there is someone with them through the day. Some employers have flexible work and leave arrangements for parenting that includes foster parenting. Our focus will always be the needs of the child and will form part of the matching that we do before a placement is made. If you work full time it is unlikely that we would be able to place an infant in your care as they need consistent care to form attachments and it is not considered appropriate to put them in child care for extended periods.
What is a Welcome Book?
As part of your assessment you will be asked to create a “Welcome Book” about your family. The book creates a story in appropriate language for the child/children you may have in your home and assists them to feel less of a stranger when they come to your home. Remember this is a very scary time for children who may just have been removed from their families or who don’t like change.
A Welcome Book can be a good preparation for children and young people coming to stay by orientating them to you and your family (including extended family), the physical surroundings, any pets that live in the home, toys and activities. Talking about the interests of family members and the games that children or pets can also assist. The Welcome Book may include a photo of the bedroom where they will sleep with a welcome teddy or toy to assist younger children to feel less anxiety as well as outside play spaces and equipment. If you are intending to care for an older child/young person it may be good to include information about computer access, games machines and leisure activities.
The Welcome Book can be a fun activity for you and your partner or children to put together!
Will I be paid?
Carers receive a tax-free reimbursement for caring for a child and the rate of this is based on the age and needs of the child. The reimbursement covers reasonable costs associated with caring for an additional child. There is an expectation that any money received from Communities Tasmania is spent on the child, including providing them with pocket money. Carers may also be eligible for payments from Centrelink, however some of these are means tested.
Will I have to meet the parents?
Yes. Foster care is a temporary arrangement to secure the safety of children when they are unable to live with their own families and contact with parents may be in many forms – not just face to face. Children who require Out of Home Care do well when they are supported by their carers to have an ongoing relationship with their parents. Carers, parents, and workers play a vital role in the care team approach to supporting children and young people in care. Creating an environment where the parent’s role is recognised as important really helps. This may be through creating craft or cooking for the child to share with the parent during contact visits, taking photos and sharing other information, where appropriate, can assist children to settle into care. Face to face contact with parents is assessed by Communities Tasmania for any safety issues.
Do I need to have a car?
Carers need to have access to a reliable vehicle. A foster carer, in most circumstances will need to be able to provide transport for children and young people to and from day to day activities (such as school) and other activities to support the developmental needs of the child as well as contact visits with their families. A child or young person may have extra needs such as medical and a reliable vehicle is needed for this reason. Carers must provide and use appropriate car seat/restraints when transporting children and young people in their cars. Any vehicles must be registered and roadworthy.
Can I choose the child or young person I want to care for?
You can indicate a preference an age range of children/ young people that might fit best with your family and we will discuss this with you during the assessment. We will do our best to match a child to your family but need you to be as flexible as possible. We will give you as much information as we can about the needs of the children/young people but sometimes, we rely on you to help us build knowledge about the child and their needs.
I have been a carer with another organisation – can I transfer?
If you are an approved (some states call it authorised) carer in Tasmania or in another state, it may be possible for you to transfer. We will ask you to provide documentation of training and to sign a permission for us to contact the previous foster care agency. Basic checks will be done including police and family violence checks, child safety and medical checks as well as a Safe Home Safe Practices Check. You will also need to obtain a current Working with Vulnerable People Check for Tasmania. Depending on your experience and length of service with the other organisation we may need you and your partner to complete the Shared Lives Training and, in some circumstances, we may need to complete an updated assessment.
Is Communities Tasmania the only foster care provider in Tasmania
Communities Tasmania is not the only provider of foster care in Tasmania. It funds some other services to provide care for children who are under legal orders. Details of non-government agencies can be found below:
|Statewide||Life Without Barriers||Phone: (03) 6232 8750Website: Lwb.org.au|
|Baptcare||Phone: 13 BAPTCAREWebsite: Baptcare.org.au|
No email – online enquiry form
|Key Assets||Phone: 1800 WE CAREWebsite: www.keyassets.com.au|
|South||Kennerley Children’s Homes||Phone: (03) 6272 5900Website: www.kennerleykids.org.au|
|North||Glenhaven Family Care (Temcare)||Phone: (03) 6343 7551Website: Glenhaven.org.au|
No email – online enquiry form
|North West||Glenhaven Family Care (Temcare||Phone: (03) 6425 1144Website: Glenhaven.org.au|
No email – Online enquiry form
Can I apply to more than one foster care provider?
There are several providers of foster care in Tasmania and it is important that you find the right fit for you. However, it is important that you apply with only one provider and you will be asked at the point of enquiry if you have applied with any others. If you have, we will ask your permission to speak to them and obtain any records if necessary.
Aboriginal Children in Care
Aboriginal children will be placed in accordance with the Aboriginal Placement Principles pursuant to (Section 10 of the Children and Young Persons and Their Families Act 1997), which aims to preserve and enhance the identification of Aboriginal children and young people and their experience of belonging to their family, community and culture. The removal of an Aboriginal child or young person from their family is an option of last resort and the Child Safety Service will endeavour to place them with extended family or in the Aboriginal community.
If Aboriginal children are placed in foster care, Communities Tasmania has a responsibility to ensure preservation and enhancement of cultural identity and a sense of connectedness to family and community. Communities Tasmania has a responsibility to collaborate with recognised Aboriginal agencies and will be guided by that organisation in regard to a cultural plan for the child/young person.
Non-Aboriginal carers are assessed to care for Aboriginal children and must be able to demonstrate a level of understanding about the history and needs of the Aboriginal community and an ability to support Aboriginal children/young people.
What about caring for children from a different culture to my own?
For children and young people from diverse cultural backgrounds, Communities Tasmania will endeavour to place them within a kinship arrangement, with carers from their own cultural background. Where carers are from a different culture, we will seek to provide them with additional training, so that they can meet the child or young person’s cultural needs.
For more information about becoming a Foster Carer, please contact the:
Foster Care Recruitment Team
Phone: 1800 732 522