From start to finish, the journey to become a foster carer takes around six months. This page outlines the different steps involved.
1. Learn about foster care and being a carer
To decide if foster care is something for you, it's a good idea to learn a little about the roles and responsibilities of a foster carer.
In South Australia, Foster Care Services provides information about becoming a foster carer. Call 1300 2 FOSTER (1300 2 367 837) or complete the online request form to have information sent to your address.
You may also be invited to attend an information session. Information sessions are usually attended by small groups of people who are interested in becoming foster carers.
Foster carers don't have to be rich or have a big house. They need to be able to offer a safe home environment to the foster child and have the ability to provide loving and secure relationships. Find out more on the who can be a foster carer page.
Make contact with a foster care agency
To express your interest in being a foster carer make contact with a foster care agency.
The agency will send you an information pack to help you make an informed choice about becoming a foster carer.
At every step of the process, you can decide not to proceed. If you have any concerns, you can discuss them with staff of the fostering agency.
Information exchange session and meeting the household
After reading information provided by the foster care agency, if you indicate that you are interested in proceeding, the agency will meet with you to:
- discuss the process in detail
- answer your questions
- meet members of your family/household (if applicable).
2. Application and checks
The next step involves submitting an application to your foster care agency who will need to carry out checks on you and your family.
- working with children checks, administered through the Department of Human Services for all adult household members and regular guests
- child protection checks (this involves contact with the Department for Child Protection) conducted for all household members and regular guests
- referee checks
- medical checks.
An assessment worker from the fostering agency will also confirm that your home is safe for children.
When the agency receives your application, they will arrange assessment appointments in your home. There will be around 6 sessions that run for 2 hours.
The fostering assessment helps you make an informed decision and helps the fostering agency to:
- gain an understanding of your lifestyle and circumstances
- place children who best fit with your lifestyle, family and circumstances
- learn more about your affinity and experience with children.
During these appointments, talking through the issues will help you understand what is involved in being a foster carer.
You will need to participate in foster carer training to equip you with the skills needed to provide quality care and give you a better understanding of the foster carer role.
The foster care agency will arrange these training sessions for you.
Training includes, but is not limited to, learning about:
- identity and birth family contact
- team work
- grief and loss
- responding to challenging behaviours
- maintaining cultural connections
- foster care in the South Australian context, including carer rights and responsibilities
- a one day Child Safe Environments for Children and Young People course - all approved foster carers are required to be mandated notifiers
- Provide First Aid
- Infant Safe Training - this two hour session is only for applicants who want to care for children aged under two.
Sometimes assessment will occur after training and sometimes both training and assessment will be run together, it depends on the agency that you are working with.
5. Agency recommendation
Upon completion of paperwork, checks and training, the foster care agency will discuss the progress of your application.
If all the information demonstrates your household is suitable for fostering, the fostering agency will submit an assessment report to the Department for Child Protection (DCP) recommending your approval as a foster carer.
If a foster care agency has any concerns about your suitability or readiness for fostering at any stage during the assessment, you can expect the agency to discuss these with you in detail and provide you with options as to how to proceed.
These options may include placing the assessment on hold for a period, or withdrawing the application voluntarily.
If you do not agree with the options presented, the agency can support you to have your views included in a final assessment report for the Department for Child Protection or can provide you with information about their grievance processes.
6. Approval and placements
The Department for Child Protection makes decisions regarding the approval or non-approval of carers, and may request additional information to inform these decisions.
This is a rigorous and thorough process to ensure that children and young people receive the highest standards of care.
When a carer household is approved, the foster care agency lets them know and begins discussions about arranging a suitable placement of a child or children to the home.
Foster Care Services
Phone: 1300 2 FOSTER (1300 2 367 837)