Foster care in NSW and ACT

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What is foster care?

Foster care is when a child who is unable to live safely at home with their parents, is cared for by another family or person, typically due to issues within the child’s birth family such as abuse, neglect, family violence, mental illness or parental substance abuse.

Barnardos is a child and family support organisation that provides foster care services across NSW and ACT.

We are always looking for new foster carers to provide care for children and young people of all ages, from babies through to teenagers.

Interested in open adoption? That journey starts with you becoming a foster carer.
Find out more about open adoption.

Enquire about becoming a
foster carer


Questions you might have about foster care?

What does a foster
carer do?

A foster carer provides the child, or sibling groups, with a safe and nurturing home environment until they are able to be reunited with their birth family or until a permanent family is found for them.

Why is there a need for foster care in NSW and ACT?

More than 45,000 children in Australia 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. These children need to be cared for 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.

What is it like being a foster carer?

Being a foster carer can be both challenging and rewarding. As a foster carer you will be providing a child with a safe home, and helping them to overcome any challenges they may have faced in their early life.

Can I become a foster carer?

To be eligible to be a foster carer with Barnardos Australia you must be at least 25 years of age and in good health. You can be married or single, with or without children, and we welcome carers from all backgrounds, including those from different ethnicities, cultures, religions, genders, and sexual orientation. You will need to be an Australian citizen or permanent resident and be willing to undergo background checks.

"It's a very rewarding experience, and once this little person comes into your life you will never look back" - Dan

Rory and Dan
Play Video about Rory and Dan

Meet Rory and Dan - Respite carers

We wanted to start a family nearly eight or nine years ago in the early days when we knew we wanted to be parents but we weren’t sure how how capable we were necessarily. Respite just seemed to be such a great option for us because it gave a little bit of a taste of parenting without 24/7 commitment.

Once we were approved for respite foster care we were eventually placed with – he was 12 at the time – a young man called Ben and he was going to stay with us for one weekend a month for a period of minimum two-year commitment. It was the first respite foster care placement and over a course of about four years.

In addition to Ben we looked after another three other young people, it was that one weekend a month or two weekends a month as it turned out to be a commitment. We got to test our abilities as parents and how we work together.  As respite foster carers we’re there to basically give their main foster carers a break for the weekend and allow that young person a bit of fun time, I guess a bit of a change of scenery.   

We got married in 2018 and Ben ended up being part of our wedding party. We felt like he was part of our family for a very long time and we wanted him to be a part of that.

It’s a very rewarding sort of experience and yeah once this little person comes into your lives you just will never look back.


What types of care can you provide?

Short-term foster care

Short-term foster care is when a child is placed with a carer for a temporary period of time, anywhere from two weeks to two years, usually until the child can be safely reunited with their birth family or a permanent family is found for them.

Short-term foster care is important as it provides stability and security for a child during a time of upheaval or crisis in their life. Short-term foster care can be a stepping stone to a permanent placement, or it can be the child’s only form of foster care if they are able to return safely to their birth family.

Long-term (permanent) foster care

Long-term or permanent foster care is when a child is placed with a carer on a long-term basis until the child turns 18 years old or is ready to move on to independent living. This type of care is required when the Children's Court rule it is not safe for a child to return to their birth family.

In some cases, long-term or permanent foster care can also lead to open adoption, which offer a child stability and belonging for life.

Respite foster care

Respite foster care is when a child is placed with a carer for a short period of time, usually one weekend a month or during school holidays, to give their regular foster carer a break. Respite care can also be used to provide additional support to a family who is struggling to cope with a child with complex needs.

Respite foster care is important as it provides a child in out-of-home care with additional positive relationships and experiences. It also allows the child’s regular foster carers some time off, which can be crucial in giving carers a chance to focus on their own wellbeing. Respite care can be either planned or emergency, and can be for a few hours, a weekend, or a longer period of time.


What are the benefits of becoming a foster carer?

Making a positive difference in a child's life

Be a champion for young Australians when they need you the most. Give them care and stability during their formative years

Gaining new skills and experiences

Learn about how to support children in care and those who may have more complex needs and behaviours

Access to foster care payments

Foster carers receive a tax-free foster care allowance to help with the costs of caring for the child

Undergo foster care training

We give all of our approved foster carers comprehensive training on the type of care you will be providing, before the child or young person is placed with you

Want to change a child's world?

If you are interested in becoming a foster carer in NSW or the ACT, please complete our become a carer inquiry form and one of our staff from the carer recruitment team will contact you to discuss further.