Why be a carer?
There is currently a critical need to provide foster care in Victoria.
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.
If you want to be a foster carer in Victoria, there are some boxes you need to tick.
Foster carers need to be at least 21 years old, with relevant life experience.
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 for kinship care.
Age of your own children
We know that being able to meet every child in the household’s needs is important, and for this reason we know it is best to match children with carers whose children are older than they are. We would ask that you wait until your youngest child is 6 years of age to consider fostering in Victoria.
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 citizenship with a special class 444 visa.
Foster 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.
If you are applying to foster with a partner, you will need to have been in a stable relationship for at least two years. Both potential carers will need to be willing participants in the process of becoming a carer.
If you (or your partner) are pregnant, attempting to fall pregnant or involved in fertility, surrogacy or adoption processes, foster-care applications may only be considered for respite, emergency and short term care. We need to see that you have worked through any feelings you may have about these processes, so we might suggest that you take some time before submitting your application so you can reflect on your experiences fully. We also ask that your youngest child is 6 years old before you commence an application with us.
We ask foster carers to abstain from smoking inside the home or vehicle when any child is present. Visitors to your home will need to adhere to this requirement also.
Foster carers should be in good physical and emotional health and able to meet the needs of children in their care.
If you and a former partner currently share parenting responsibility of children, your child’s other parent must be in full agreement with fostering occurring in your home.
Working With Children Check clearance*
All applicants and household members and overnight visitors over 18 must be eligible for a Working With Children Check Clearance. A household member is anyone who visits for 21 days, or more, in a year.
National Criminal Record Check clearance
All applicants and household members and overnight visitors 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. If you’ve resided overseas at any time, we may ask that you complete an international police check as well.
Community Services Check
All applicants and household members aged 18 and above need to disclose any current or previous applications to foster or any current or previous involvement by Child Protection/the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing with a child in their care. We then run a check with the Department to verify this information. Additionally, all applicants and household members will be required to complete a Disqualified Carers Check as part of the application process so we can verify you have not been disqualified from caring for children.
The Victorian Carers Register
If you are approved as a foster carer in Victoria your details will be added to the Victorian Carers Register. The register records all approved carer households across the state and any individuals who have been disqualified from caring for children. The register is accessible by all Fostering Agencies and Child Protection authorities.
*What is a Working With Children Check? The Working with Children Check is a screening process for assessing or re-assessing people who work with or care for children in Victoria. The check takes a detailed look at the criminal history and relevant professional conduct findings of applicants to ensure we’re assisting to protect children from sexual or physical harm.
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 Victoria 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, understanding trauma and stress, and healthy living.
Fostering children in Victoria 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.
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. We also have a Carer Peer Support Group which you can join.
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
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 Victoria, our team is ready to answer your questions.
You can contact us today and we will come back to you as soon as possible.