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
Questions you might have about foster care?
Why is there a need for foster care in NSW and ACT?
More than 46,200 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.
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
Meet Rory and Dan - Respite carers
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.