Never alone: How we support foster carers

6 September 2019

Let’s be frank, the journey to foster caring can be one fraught with unknowns and challenges. However, it’s never a journey that carers walk alone.

Life Without Barriers appreciates the dedication and selflessness that is required to become a foster carer, and that we can all use a helping hand sometimes. With that, there are many ways in which we support carers, as we all work together to provide a safe and loving environment for the young people in our care.

Training

When we undertake any new endeavour in life, be it sporting, academic, career or otherwise, it’s important to receive the training necessary to upskill so we’re prepared to take on the new challenge. The same applies to foster caring, so Life Without Barriers provides carers with a range of learning opportunities suited to their level of experience and the needs of children in their care.

In addition to the training required to become a foster carer, carers may also receive face-to-face training on any number of topics where extra support is needed, from dealing with teenage children to providing trauma-informed support.

We also provide online training via our myLearning portal, which is regularly updated for the most up-to-date information and advice. It’s easy to use, with videos and additional resources, so you can go at your own pace.

24/7 on-call support

As any parent will tell you, caring for a child or young person is a 24/7 responsibility, so we provide round-the-clock support to reflect that. All Life Without Barriers foster carers have access to on-call support at any time of the day or night for advice, support and direction in stressful situations. During these times, carers can call their local on-call support hotline, which is operated by knowledgeable case managers or Supporter Of Carers (SOC) in the area.

Financial support

School uniforms, food, medication, books, clothing, utilities… raising a child, in whatever capacity, costs money. To help cover these costs, we provide foster carers with a tax-free allowance to support the needs of children placed in their care, so they can focus on providing compassion rather than making ends meet.

Foster carers are also able to access additional support from Centrelink, which your local Life Without Barriers team can assist with arranging. Carers are also entitled to a range of benefits with our partners, including discounts with Kmart Tyre and Auto Service, nib Health Funds, as well as Employee Assistance Program counselling with Drake WorkWise.

Image: We have specialist staff trained to help foster carers deal with complex issues

Specialist support

Our specialist staff work with children and alongside carers where additional support is needed. As part of this, Life Without Barriers has in-house psychologists and Therapeutic Permanency Specialists, who are dedicated to supporting the needs of children in care, however complex. Local teams can also help arrange any referrals involved in supporting a child in care.

Respite

Sometimes, we all just need a little break to recharge and refresh. This helps us return to our roles feeling energised. For this reason, we offer carers respite services, be it for a night or a weekend. For children in care, it can be a great opportunity to strengthen social and family networks, while for carers, this short break can be used to focus on other responsibilities and commitments, or simply personal wellbeing. This type of care is only offered when it is in the child's best interests.

Image: Our Mockingbird Family group of carers based in Newcastle, NSW

Carer networking

Talking to other carers is sometimes the best form of support. Through regular carer events, we create opportunities for carers to share their concerns, celebrate successes and provide feedback to the Life Without Barriers team. We also offer MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™, which is a dedicated micro-community of foster carers that meet regularly, support each other through social events and respite, and have access to training. It works by connecting children and young people with their peers and caring adults, keeping them connected to their family and culture.

To find out about events in your area, contact your Carer Engagement Officer, Case Manager or Supporter Of Carers (SOC).

Online advice

For advice and insight around commonly asked questions, carers can visit our online Carer Guide, which contains a wealth of information, useful tips, and handy resources. Our foster care website also has a section dedicated to Stories From Care, where we profile other Life Without Barriers carers and their diverse experiences. It’s an excellent resource for understanding the reality and rewards of becoming a foster carer, with the support of our Life Without Barriers carer community.

Our foster carers are supported on every step of the journey. If you could provide a home for a child in need, learn more about becoming a foster carer.

Become a foster carer

If you’d like to open your heart and home to a child in need, learn more about becoming a foster carer