Learn about foster care in Australia

Make a child’s life extraordinary. Become a Barnardos foster carer and change a child’s life.

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Can you give the gift of love?

We are looking for foster carers with lots of love, time
and support to offer a child the positive difference and nurturing home that they deserve.

Barnardos provide training, an allowance and 24/7 support.

We welcome carers from diverse backgrounds, young or old, married or single, with or without children and members of the LGBTI community.

Our foster carers are ordinary people doing
extraordinary things for children

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Meet David and Tara, Barnardos foster carers

What is foster care?

Foster care provides vulnerable children and young people with care and support when they are no longer able to live
with their birth families in a safe, secure and nurturing family home.

Short-term foster care

Ranging from a few days or months, even up to a period of two years, short-term foster care provides temporary care for a child in order to return them safely back to their birth family or to find them an alternative permanent home.

Permanent foster care

When a child cannot return safely to their birth parents or family members, they need someone who can give them a safe, secure, and safe environment up until they reach the age of 18 years or are ready to move on to independent living.

Respite foster care

Caring for a child one weekend every month
(or more during school holidays), respite foster care provides a foster child with additional positive relationships and experiences, plus allows their foster families a little time out.

Open adoption

When courts rule a child cannot safely return home, open adoption provides a child with a sense of belonging, stability and security. They become a legal member of their new adoptive family, but can also remain in contact with their birth family which helps to strengthen their sense of identity and culture.

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How we support our foster carers



We provide comprehensive training and on-going learning opportunities


We provide 24/7 on-call support and guidance any time of the day or night to help you on your foster care journey


We provide a tax-free carer allowance to contribute to the costs of caring for a child
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We will support and guide you every step of the way

You might be just who we are looking for to change a child’s world.


Upcoming information sessions

Information events coming soon.

Our carers share their stories

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Meet Sharon

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Meet Sean

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Meet Ronnie and Paul


Interested in being a foster carer and live in the ACT?

Barnardos Australia is part of consortium of agencies that provide foster care services in the ACT area called ACT Together. If you want to become a foster carer in that region please contact the team at ACT Together and they will be able to assist you further.

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Foster care FAQs

Foster carers must be at least 25 years old and in good health. They can be married or single, with or without children. We welcome carers regardless of ethnicity, culture, religion, gender or sexuality. Foster carers need to be an Australian citizen or permanent resident and willing to undergo background checks.

Barnardos Australia currently only needs foster carers in NSW and the ACT.

No. It is fine if you rent your home, as long as you have a spare bedroom to give the child privacy and space. If you do not have a spare room, you could be approved to care for a baby aged up to 12 months sleeping in a cot or bassinet in your bedroom.

Yes. However, any foster children placed with you usually need to be at least two years younger than your youngest child. Children who need care often have very complex needs and require a great deal of time and attention. Fostering a child is a big change so it is important to talk to your children and to ask them how they feel about it. Also, if you have been undergoing IVF, we require you to have completed IVF treatment more than 12 months before applying.

Yes, depending on the needs of the child and the flexibility of your work. For permanent care we usually request that someone is able to be at home for the first six months of the placement for the child to settle in. Many of our carers who care for school-age children work full or part time, and respite carers are usually people who work full-time but are able to spend one weekend a month with a child.

There are some offences and serious crimes which would automatically disqualify you from becoming a foster carer, however in general we assess each application on its individual merits and your eligibility to apply will depend on the nature of the offence and when it was committed.

Please complete our become a carer enquiry form, specifying where you live and which type of out of home care you are interested in, and one of our staff from the carer recruitment team will contact you to discuss further.

Yes, you can specify an age range or gender of child you would like to foster. Our workers will discuss your preferences with you and assess your lifestyle to match the needs of a child to you and your individual situation. We generally do not place children in households where there are children of the same age group.

It can take up to six months to be approved as a foster carer and then depending on which kind of care you are doing, it can take anything between a few days to several months to be matched with a child.

Yes. All approved carers receive comprehensive training specific to the type of care they are providing before a child or young person is placed with them. Three sessions a year of ongoing training are also provided to all carers in order to help develop the specialist skills required to care for a child or young person.

Yes, foster carers receive a tax-free allowance to contribute to the day-to-day living costs of any child placed in their care.

Support is available to all our foster carers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our case managers provide assistance, support and regular home visits to assess the placement and ensure the needs of both the child and the carer are being met. Foster carers receive ongoing training and can participate in regular supported activities and gatherings to meet other carers and share their experiences.

Yes. It is vital that children in foster care know who they are and where they come from and they need carers with a positive and encouraging attitude towards their birth family. As a foster carer you will play a crucial role in helping the child maintain a relationship with their birth family by taking children to contact visits, which are most often held at Barnardos centres and supervised by your case manager.

Children and their foster carers receive on-going support and issues are dealt with by your case manager as they arise. We will ensure that children with physical, emotional or behavioural problems receive the necessary support to help both you and your foster child deal with those issues.

Enquire about foster care