Did you know that not all foster care is full-time? Sometimes foster care is only required on weekends, some for two months, some for two years and some longer.

Below we explain the different types of foster care that Barnardos offers, along with links to stories of real experiences to help you understand how it works and what to expect.

We understand that it can be hard to decide which care suits you best, so please feel free to contact us on 1800 663 441 or via our online enquiry form and we will help.

  1. Short-term foster care
  2. Permanent foster care
  3. Respite foster care
  4. Adolescent foster care

1. Short-term foster care

Short-term foster carers look after children experiencing a short-term family breakdown or children who are waiting for a long-term foster carer to be found. You would be asked to make a commitment to one child or a group of brothers and sisters at any one time. Generally children requiring care will be 0-5 years of age.

Placement can range from a period of a few days, or a few months up to a period of two years. If the court decides to permanently remove a child from their birth family, a plan will be implemented to support the transition of the child/young person into permanent care.

Care for these children may be required for a variety of reasons such as domestic violence, inability to parent due to alcohol/drug misuse or mental health. While placing these children in safe, stable homes is our priority, we also encourage maintenance of contact with their family networks where possible.

You would need to provide reassurance to the child and support their family. You would be part of a team which helps parents work out how to safely look after their children, or assist in making the hard decision that the child needs to live in a new family.

2. Permanent foster care

Permanent carers are needed for children generally aged 5-12 years who the Court has ruled will never be able to return to their birth parents because it is not safe.

In long-term care we carefully match children and carers to find our children a permanent home. Some children have been very damaged by their previous abuse and neglect. Carefully matching placements, along with the support our foster carers receive from us, ensures the placement has the best chance of success.

Long-term foster care has a strong focus on permanency planning but also places emphasis on maintaining birth family relationships, which are important to children who are in foster care. We believe that children who enter the care system have a right to the same opportunities and safeguards as children who remain with their birth families.

For information on adoption please visit our adoption page.

3. Respite foster care

Respite carers generally offer one weekend every month to look after a foster child. Respite carers provide foster children with a wider social network and give the primary carers a break to recharge their energy.

4. Adolescent foster care

Barnardos urgently needs short-term, permanent and respite foster carers for adolescents aged 12-18 years.

We look for foster carers who can meet the special needs of young people who are unable to live at home safely and are at risk of becoming homeless. They may have experienced significant harm, are at risk of abuse, or their families may be unable to care for them because of disability, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence or mental illness.

For more information please visit our foster a teen page.

Other types of foster care

Kinship Care
The term kinship care refers to arrangements whereby children live with and are cared for by relatives, family friends or community members with the same cultural ties.

For more information please visit our kinship care page.

Concurrency Care (ACT only)
This involves caring for a child (often under 2 years of age) while restoration to the birth family is explored; however if reunification is unsuccessful the carers should also be prepared to care for the child permanently.

The primary carer should be available to have 12 months minimum leave to stabilise the placement and provide intensive love and nurture to the child. Barnardos is committed to providing additional training and regular support specifically aimed at carers who care for babies and children who are considered concurrent.

For more information please contact the Barnardos Canberra Children and Family Centre:
2 Atherton Street Downer ACT 2602
PH: (02) 6228 9500
Fax: (02) 6241 4560
Email: concurrency@barnardos.org.au

Take our quiz now.

If you would like to speak to someone about becoming a foster carer, please call 1800 663 441 or fill out our online enquiry form.