Types of foster care

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What are the different types of foster care?

In NSW and ACT, children and young people enter foster care if they are at risk of significant harm and cannot live safely at home. They may be placed with kinship carers or short-term foster carers before decisions are made by the Children’s Court about where they can live.

Each child has individual needs, but long-term plans may include: being able to live safely with their parents again; placed with relatives or kinship carers; or transitioning to a permanent foster care, guardianship arrangement or open adoption.

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 a permanent family 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.

Kinship care

Children live with, and are cared for by, relatives, family friends or community members with the same cultural ties. Kinship carers are usually grandparents, aunties or uncles who have taken on a full-time carer role.

Open adoption

When the Children's Court rules a child cannot safely return home or to kin, open adoption provides a child with a sense of belonging, stability and security. They become a legal member of their new adoptive family, but also remains in contact with their birth family which helps to strengthen their sense of identity and culture.

Foster Care FAQs

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Foster care gives children a second chance at childhood

Foster Carer Dalal
Play Video about Foster Carer Dalal

Meet Dalal - Barnardos foster carer

My name is Dalal and I’m a short-term foster carer for Barnardos Australia.

When I came to Sydney, I was very shocked to hear that there were traumatized babies and children that needed a safe home. Hearing this from a friend made me cry, and I knew in my heart that I needed to help them.

The first child that I cared for was a baby, she was so tiny at only 2 months old. Her mother was in a very dark place and was experiencing severe trauma that she could not properly take care of her baby. I knew that it hurt her, as I could see that she loved her baby very much.  She was so scared that her baby would call me “mama” and forget about her, but I reassured her that she will always be the child’s mother and I can be “grandma”.

The child was in my care for 2 years, 3 months, and it was one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever had. In the beginning, I thought that I would only be giving that child a safe and loving home – but it was much more than that – I brought her family together. When the mother was undergoing trauma, her family distanced themselves from her because they didn’t know what to do.  Now that they see that her baby is growing up well and that she is improving, they are all there to support her.

My faith is very important to me. Allah teaches us to help others as much as we can. So being a foster carer and helping children and families who need it is a wonderful way to do his work.

If you are thinking of being a foster carer, just try it. It will change your life, like it has changed mine.

Why foster with Barnardos?

We know that deciding to become a foster carer is one of the biggest decisions someone can make in their life, and the choice of who to foster with is just as important.

Barnardos is a trusted organisation with a long history of helping children. Our carers receive training, allowance and dedicated case worker support. We also pay a higher carer allowance to our specialist carers in recognition of their dedicated role.

Unlike other foster care organisations, we don’t believe in a “one size fits all” care model. Instead we have different types of foster care to allow our carers to specialise their skills and receive targeted support.

We openly embrace equality and diversity and have carers from all walks of life. Carers are welcomed from all faith backgrounds, and we don’t impose an upper age limit. We have accepted many people in their 40’s and older to be foster carers or adoptive parents who have been turned away from other agencies due to their age.

“I still remember every single child I have welcomed into my home.”

- Sandy, Barnardos foster carer

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