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Fostering children in Australia

Make a child's life extraordinary. Become a Barnardos foster carer, change a child's life.

Contact us today

Can you give the gift of love?

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

You can be single, married, with or without children and we warmly welcome members of the LGBTQI+ community.

Because we recognise the importance of keeping children connected to their culture and community, we are always looking for a diverse range of carers, including those from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or Muslim backgrounds.

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

Our foster carers are ordinary people doing
extraordinary things for children

Foster Carer Dalal
Play Video about Foster Carer Dalal

Meet Dalal and learn more about her journey
to becoming a short-term foster carer

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.

We have different types of foster care including: short-term foster care, permanent foster care, respite foster care, kinship care & open adoption.

LEARN ABOUT TYPES OF FOSTER CARE

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How we support our foster carers

We offer a range of comprehensive support services that are tailored to meet the unique needs of foster carers, empowering you to provide the best possible care to the children in your home. We are here to stand by your side, providing the assistance, guidance, and resources you need on this incredible journey.

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Undergo foster care training

Thorough training is given so you have all the knowledge and skills you need

24/7 on-call support

We are available day or night 24/7 to help you in a crisis

Access to foster care payments

Foster carers get a tax-free financial support to help cover the costs of caring for a child
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Ongoing learning & events

Train and learn throughout your foster care experience

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

At Barnardos Australia, we welcome individuals and families from diverse backgrounds who have a genuine passion for making a positive difference in the lives of children. If you’re considering opening your heart and home to a child in need, here are some of the requirements for becoming a foster carer in NSW:

  • Age and residency: You must be at least 25 years old and a permanent resident or citizen of Australia to become a foster carer (with exceptions made for Kinship carers). There is no upper age limit at Barnardos.
  • Relationship status: You can be single, married, or in a defacto relationship (heterosexual or same sex relationship).
  • Culture and religion: We welcome carers from all cultural and religious backgrounds.
  • Safe and stable environment: Foster carers need to provide a safe and stable living environment for children. This includes having appropriate sleeping arrangements, a clean and comfortable home, and access to basic amenities.
  • Health and well-being: Your physical and mental health plays a crucial role in providing effective care. As part of the assessment process, you’ll need to undergo a medical examination and provide relevant health and immunisation records.
  • Smoking status: In accordance with health advice Barnardos seeks to mitigate the impact of second-hand smoke on children in care and therefore does not allow foster carers to be smokers (some exceptions made for Kinship carers).
  • Capacity for parenting: Foster carers should have a child-focused approach and be flexible to meet the needs of children and young people. You should have a willingness to approach a child’s culture with humility, respect and curiosity and an ability to build strong relationships and connections with a child or young person, their family, and the agency and other professionals.
  • Criminal history check: As part of the application process, you’ll be required to undergo a thorough criminal history check to ensure the safety of children in care.
  • Working with Children check: All foster carers must hold a valid Working with Children Check clearance, which helps ensure the safety and well-being of the children placed in your care.
  • Training and support: Foster carers are expected to participate in training and development programs to enhance their skills and knowledge in caring for children who have experienced trauma or challenging circumstances. Barnardos provides comprehensive training opportunities and ongoing support to help you navigate the foster care journey.

If you meet these criteria and have a genuine desire to make a positive impact in the lives of children, we encourage you to consider becoming a foster carer with Barnardos. Together, we can provide a safe and nurturing environment for children in need, empowering them to reach their full potential.

Take the first step today and apply to become a foster carer with Barnardos Australia. Your support can change a child’s life forever.

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Upcoming information sessions

25th June 2024
6pm - 7:30pm

Barnardos is holding a free online information session to discuss different types of foster care and answer any questions you may have. You'll hear an in-depth presentation about the various types of foster care and what is involved in becoming a carer.

To receive your event link, email us or call the team on
1800 663 441

RSVP

18th April 2023
7pm - 8:30pm

Barnardos is holding a free online information session to discuss different types of foster care and answer any questions you may have. You'll hear an in-depth presentation about the various types of foster care and what is involved in becoming a carer.

To receive your event link, email us or call the team on
1800 663 441

RSVP

14th March 2023
5:30pm - 7pm

Penrith Bowling and Recreation Club

Join us at this event to learn more about foster care.

Hear from event host My Forever Family NSW, a representative from the Department of Communities and Justice NSW, and meet with local agencies (including Barnardos). A local carer will also be sharing their story.

RSVP

21st March 2023
5:30pm - 7pm

Central Coast ARAFMI
21 Bellbowrie Avenue, Narara

Join us at this event to learn more about foster care.

Hear from event host My Forever Family NSW, a representative from the Department of Communities and Justice NSW, and meet with local agencies (including Barnardos). A local carer will also be sharing their story.

RSVP

23rd March 2023
9am - 5pm

Barnardos is holding a free hybrid online and in person drop in day to discuss different types of foster care. You'll hear an in-depth presentation about the different types of foster care and what is involved in becoming a carer. You'll also have an opportunity to ask any questions you may have.

To RSVP, email us or call the team on 1800 663 441

RSVP

23rd March 2023
9am - 5pm

Barnardos is holding a free hybrid online and in person drop in day to discuss different types of foster care. You'll hear an in-depth presentation about the different types of foster care and what is involved in becoming a carer. You'll also have an opportunity to ask any questions you may have.

To RSVP, email us or call the team on 1800 663 441

RSVP

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Our carers share their stories

Karen and James
Play Video about Karen and James

Meet Karen and James

Foster Carer Widja
Play Video about Foster Carer Widja

Meet Anna & Widja

Sandy Permanent Foster Carer
Play Video about Sandy Permanent Foster Carer

Meet Sandy

Foster Carer Dalal
Play Video about Foster Carer Dalal

Meet Dalal

Kate and Katelynd - from permanent care to open adoption
Play Video about Kate and Katelynd

Meet Katelynd and Kate

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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.

In Australia more than 45,000 children are unable to live safely with their birth families due to various reasons such as abuse, neglect, family violence, mental illness or parental substance abuse. Foster carers play a vital role by caring for these children in a safe and nurturing environment until they are able to be reunited with their families or until a permanent family is found for them.

Foster care provides children with a second chance at having a stable and safe childhood, which they may otherwise have missed out on and we are dedicated to helping them heal from their past, to recover and thrive.

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 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.

Read more about our support for foster carers.

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