Carers play a crucial role in a child or young person in care’s life by providing a safe and nurturing family environment for them to grow up in.
Supporting foster and kinship carers is a priority for the Department for Child Protection and a crucial principle in the Statement of Commitment for foster and kinship carers in South Australia.
Caring for children and young people in care can be very rewarding. It can also have its challenges. Carers are able to access support to assist them as needed. This page contains information about support and advocacy options that are available to carers and how to access them.
In South Australia, family based carers have a support worker to provide guidance and support them in their role. The type of care the carer provides determines where the support worker comes from. Foster carers are supported by a foster care agency. Kinship carers are supported by the Department for Child Protection's (DCP) Kinship Care Program or an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation.
The support worker’s role is to ensure the carer has the information and ongoing support they need to meet the needs of the child or young person, in conjunction with the child or young person’s DCP case manager. The support worker can also assist the carer to participate in the care team and decision-making processes for children and young people in care.
How carers are supported
Foster and kinship care support agencies and the DCP Kinship Care Program work to support and inform carers. Approved carers will be affiliated with a support agency or the DCP Kinship Care Program.
Support agencies have management systems and procedures for providing a 24-hour emergency support to carers. All carers can also access DCP After Hours support on 13 16 11 for urgent matters that require case management support outside of business hours.
Carers usually remain with one support agency for their caring journey, however in certain circumstances carers may want to transfer to a different support agency. The Carer transfer fact sheet and checklist (PDF, 1.4 MB) provides guidance for carers to navigate a transfer to a new support agency, and an easy to use checklist outlining the steps.
Contact with support workers
Support workers visit the carer’s home to provide support. Topics that could be discussed include:
- child or young person's health, emotional and behavioural development
- family contact arrangements
- the child's educational progress
- cultural considerations
- special needs
- care environment, personal circumstances and interpersonal issues
- carer support needs
- relationships with birth family and the impact of contact
- partnership with the department and other agencies.
Connecting with other carers
The South Australian Government has committed to ensuring appropriate support and advocacy for family based carers in SA.
Connecting Foster and Kinship Carers SA (CF&KC-SA) is funded by the Department for Child Protection as the independent peak body for carers in SA. This funding ensures CF&KC-SA is positioned to provide support and advocacy to carers, at both the individual and systemic level.
CF&KC-SA hold regular information sessions and events to bring carers together. Carers are encouraged to connect with other carers through CF&KC-SA who run a peer support network, support groups and reference groups for carers to share with and support one another.
CF&KC-SA also publishes Carer Guides on topics of concern for carers such as care concerns, care team meetings, contact arrangements and long term guardianship (specified person).
Membership to CF&KC-SA is free and carers are encouraged to join.
Phone: 1800 732 272
In addition, some support agencies also have support groups and reference groups for carers to contribute to and participate in. To find out more, contact your support worker or agency.
DCP and support agencies also plan events and activities throughout the year such as:
- training opportunities
- speakers and morning teas
- Kinship and Foster Care Week events
- other celebrations.
For more information, contact your support worker.
DCP Kinship Care Program
Kinship carers play a crucial role in providing safe and nurturing family home environments to children and young people, and ensuring they remain connected to family and kin.
Kinship carers in South Australia currently receive support through DCP’s Kinship Care Program or through an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation, Aboriginal Family Support Services, InComPro, and Kornar Winmil Yunti Aboriginal Corp (KWY). The programs provide support, information and training to kinship carers.
Looking after yourself
Self-care is an important part of providing care to others. Carers can talk to their support worker if they need additional support to look after themselves and care for the child or young person in their care. The following resources may also be of interest to carers:
Caring for Aboriginal children and young people
The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) website is designed to support and empower carers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. The website includes resources about carer self-care, supports, overcoming barriers and preparing your family and home.
Making a complaint
Carers are encouraged to raise issues with their case worker so they can be resolved at the local level where possible. Carers can then escalate issues to a Supervisor or Office Manager at the DCP office. If the issue is still not resolved, carers can contact the DCP Central Complaints Unit with details of the issue or incident.
Find out about making a complaint.