Why be a carer?
There is currently a critical need to provide foster care in South Australia.
With almost 50,000 children across Australia who need care each year, fostering a child is primarily about offering a safe, supportive and nurturing home environment.
Where you live can affect some of the criteria you need to tick off in order to become a carer in your state.
Types of care in South Australia
Fostering in South Australia involves supporting children and young people to live in safe, secure and nurturing environments whilst it is not safe to live with family. This may be for a short time, or a long time. No one situation is the same.
Life Without Barriers is a provider of both foster care and specialist foster care offering a range of care options to meet the unique needs of all children and young people in care. Depending on your individual commitments, family dynamic and lifestyle, different types of care might be most suited to your current situation.
Foster care includes various care options for children and young people of all ages and cultural backgrounds, from Emergency to Short Term Care, Long Term and Respite Care. Foster Care is providing a safe and nurturing environment for children to thrive whilst staying connected to family and community, with the ultimate aim being for children to return home when it is safe to do so.
Specialist foster carers care for children and young people who have more complex needs due to significant trauma, abuse and/or disability. Our specialist carers receive additional training and support to equip them to provide the level of care required for children and young people with significant and complex needs. Specialist carers need to be available flexibly to support the additional needs to engage with education, community and health providers that children requiring specialist care might have.
Life Without Barriers offers a range of care options and foster carers can choose one or multiple types of care. Different types of care include:
If you want to be a foster carer in South Australia, there are some boxes you need to tick.
Foster carers need to be at least 25 years old, with relevant life experience. In South Australia, the maximum age to apply to foster is 75 years of age.
A dedicated spare room for fostering is required. Siblings (in care) may share if considered safe and appropriate to do so. Exceptions may be considered on a case by case basis considering culture and kinship relationships.
Age of your own children
We know that being able to meet every child in the household’s needs is important. For young children this often means a lot of time and physical attention. It is often best for your family, and children coming into your home, that children you care for are younger than your own. If you have a child under the age of 18 months, you may want to consider waiting to start your fostering journey until your youngest child turns 2. However, the age of your youngest child should not be a barrier to enquiring about becoming a foster carer as we do have Carers with infant biological children who provide care for older children. Your individual circumstances and the type of care you are interested in providing will be taken into consideration to determine your suitability to provide care.
Foster carers need to have the right to permanently live in Australia. This means you need to either be a permanent resident or citizen, or hold a New Zealand citizen with a special class 444 visa.
Potential carers should hold a driver’s licence and have access to a reliable vehicle with comprehensive insurance. Having reliable transport is important to ensure children can access the important networks within their lives. Carers who do not hold a driver’s licence need to be able to demonstrate they have adequate access to transport that is suitable to meet the needs of a child or young person in their care.
If you are applying to foster with a partner, you will need to have been in a stable relationship for at least two years, however this timeframe is a guide and exceptions can be made depending on your individual circumstances. Both potential carers will need to be willing participants in the process of becoming a carer and will need to take part in training and assessment.
If you (or your partner) are pregnant, attempting to fall pregnant or involved in fertility, surrogacy or adoption processes, foster-care applications are not able to proceed at this time. If you have recently completed assisted fertility treatment, we would ask that you wait 12 months to consider starting your fostering journey, or until your youngest child is 2 years of age.
We ask foster carers to abstain from smoking inside the home or vehicle when any child is present.
Health & Wellbeing
Foster carers should be in good physical and emotional health and able to meet the needs of children in their care. Caring for children and young people who have experienced trauma and loss can add emotional stress to your life, therefore if you have experienced recent trauma or significant loss yourself, we would ask that you wait twelve (12) months to apply to foster. This will ensure you have enough time to process the changes in your life and come to fostering ready and resilient.
If you and an ex-partner currently share parenting responsibility of children, your child’s other parent must be in full agreement with fostering occurring in your home. It’s important that all parents contribute to the decisions that impact their family dynamics.
Working With Children Check clearance*
All applicants and household members over 18 must be eligible for a Working With Children Check Clearance. Life Without Barriers will help you apply for your Working With Children Check as part of the application process.
National Criminal Record Check clearance
All applicants and household members aged 16 years and older are required by law to undergo a National Police Check. There are some criminal charges that may prevent you from becoming a foster carer, and others that may require further exploration in order to assess your suitability.
Child Protection Check
All household members and regular guests, aged 16 years and over, are required to undergo a Child Protection Check. This is a review of relevant information about an individual held by Department for Child Protection.
*What is a Working With Children Check? People working or volunteering with children in South Australia must, by law, have a Working with Children Check. A Working with Children Check is an assessment of whether a person poses an unacceptable risk to children. As part of the process, the Screening Unit will look at criminal history, child protection information and other information.
Could you be a carer?
Take the foster care self-assessment. It only takes minutes to find out if foster care is something you could do.Take the quiz
What can I expect as a carer?
Fostering a child in South Australia with Life Without Barriers means you will receive training, help and support from day one of your journey.
Life Without Barriers will provide you with a range of learning opportunities suited to your own level of experience and the needs of children in your care. This includes access to a large range of eLearning options on topics such as child development, Therapeutic parenting support, linking with other carers, nurturing and attachment relationships, understanding trauma and stress, and healthy living.
Fostering children in South Australia with Life Without Barriers means you are never alone in your journey. It can be difficult to understand some of the experiences children bring with them, so it’s important that as a carer you feel supported and confident in your role. You will have access to 24/7 support for advice and direction in challenging situations. Also, our specialist staff work with children and carers where additional support is needed.
MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™ unites 6 to 10 foster and/or kinship carer homes in a local community, supported by an experienced carer who takes on the role of Hub Home Provider.
The Hub Home Provider is an employed team member who supports carers through providing connection, information, training and emotional support.
For the children, the Hub Home is like a grandparent’s house that is familiar and comfortable. Each child is welcomed by the Hub Home Provider for sleepovers and social events, or if there is difficulty at home and the child and/or carers could benefit from a short break.
As a carer you will receive a tax-free allowance to support the individual needs of children placed in your care. Foster carers are volunteers, so this is not considered income and all potential carers need to show they are financially stable when they start their fostering journey. It is important to note that funds provided are for items that the child in your care will need, such as:
- Clothing and footwear
- Daily travel expenses
- Car restraints
- Educational expenses
Talking with other foster carers is sometimes the best form of support. Through regular events and online communities we create opportunities for carers like you to share concerns, celebrate successes and provide feedback to the Life Without Barriers team. Training programs also offer a great way to connect with other carers of varying experience.
Got more questions? Get in touch today
Life Without Barriers is committed to providing safe, supportive and respectful environments for children, so that they can thrive and be happy.
If you would like to learn more about how to become a foster carer in South Australia, our team is ready to answer your questions.
You can contact us today and we will come back to you as soon as possible.