How do you become a foster carer?
To become an approved foster carer with IFYS, you will need to participate in our training and assessment procedures. These are designed to assess whether or not foster care is right for you and your family.
This is generally accepted as a time of self reflection and personal growth by applicants. IFYS foster care staff are knowledgeable and experienced workers able to assist you make decisions that are right for you and your family. We will be sensitive to, and respectful of, your information and needs. You can, of course, choose to discontinue your application at any time.
The IFYS foster care team continue to work closely with the Department of Child Safety in the development and delivery of training to carers. All carers undertake the same standard training and assessment processes. You must complete our training program and workbook to progress in your application to be an approved carer.
The process to become fully approved as a carer can take some time to complete and will include discussion with your family, a home safety check, a health and well-being questionnaire and a range of background checks, e.g. criminal and traffic history. Your consent must be given to undertake these checks and this information remains highly confidential. The Department of Child Safety is responsible for carrying out these checks and resulting information is not disclosed to IFYS. You are also required to hold a valid Blue Card issued by the Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian.
At IFYS Foster Care we try hard to introduce you to and help you get to know, a child or young person a little before they come into your care.
This is often what is best for children and young people as well. This is not always possible in times of crisis, when an emergency placement is needed.
Foster carers are part of a ‘care team’ who help look out for and support the needs of children and young people who are in your care. Each member of the team has a critical role to play in understanding and supporting their needs. As a team we need to work together. Good communication and respect for the different roles we play are essential to healthy teams. We all share common ground and purpose, that is, to support the needs of children and young people in our care.
Carers are key members of the care team as they provide the day-to-day care for the child or young person and therefore often get to know their needs, feelings, likes and routines better than anyone else. This can be important information to share as it can help to ensure care plans are developed to support the individual needs of each child or young person.
Other members of the care team include the child or young person’s family, the Child Safety Officer (CSO), Community Visitor (CV) and other important service providers, e.g. education and health. Your IFYS Foster Care Coordinator is also part of the care team supporting, supervising and assessing foster carers. It is our job to support you in your caring role.
The care team members you will have most contact with are the child or young person’s family, CSO, CV and your foster care support worker.
Support comes in many guises – through telephone contact and regular visits with you; linking you with further training; putting you in touch with other carers and foster care support groups; talking through issues or difficulties; celebrating achievements and successes of the child or young person in your care; helping you access respite or time out when you need a break.
Carers also receive financial support to help care for the child or young person living with you. This can come from a range of sources, e.g. foster care allowance, parenting payment or family tax benefits (The fostering payment is not included in taxable income). The Department of Child Safety can provide additional monies through Child Related Costs to meet the needs of children and young people in your care, e.g. sporting activities, school camp fees, uniforms, etc. IFYS may also be able to provide support to access resources, services and activities helpful to you or the child or young person you are caring for.
Who can be a foster carer?
Approved foster carers are everyday members of the community who have a strong commitment to helping others – especially children and young people.
As the title of our information booklet suggests, foster carers change lives and we need people to provide a good mix of care and supports for children and young people who need it. What fits for one child, young person or carer, may not suit another. We believe the greater diversity of carers and flexible care arrangements we have available to us, the more likely we are to be able to meet the needs of children and young people who are in need of foster care.
Becoming a foster carer can be a challenging, sometimes demanding role. It is important that carers are not experiencing significant personal or family problems of their own and that they have the support of other members of their family or of people that they feel close to.
IFYS is not looking for perfect people, but foster carers do need to be able to relate well to children and young people and to be able to give them your time, attention and emotional support. You need to be willing to work as part of a team and be open to earning new things and sharing your wisdom and knowledge with us.
We are particularly keen to hear from prospective carers who are willing to support adolescents and children and young people with special needs.