Frequently Asked Questions
Can I become a foster carer?
Our foster carers come from many different cultural backgrounds, speak many different languages and have very different family circumstances. The diversity of families is important to help us place children in a home that will match their particular needs.
We ask that carers fulfil certain criteria which we assess on an individual case-by-case basis. The frequently asked questions about foster care below will help you decide if you could become a foster carer.
What does it mean to be a foster carer?
Being a foster carer means caring for someone else’s child in your own home, but not being the child’s legal guardian.
Why do children need foster care?
Children and young people need care because they are unable to live with their birth families. The reasons vary and include physical abuse, neglect of basic needs, parental mental illness, domestic violence, disability or family crisis, and lack of family supports.
How do I know if I could be a foster carer?
Foster carers need to be over the age of 21 and in good health. You should also be able to provide a safe, stable and caring home environment, and most of all you should enjoy caring for children and young people.
What makes a good foster carer?
Ideally a good foster carer will:
- have a strong a commitment to children and young people
- be patient, flexible and resilient
- have good communication skills
- have the ability to work collaboratively and in the best interests of the child/children
- be able to meet the needs of a child, including supporting them to maintain relationships with their families
- have a willingness to learn
How does Family Spirit support foster carers?
Each Family Spirit foster carer is allocated a case manager who provides support and supervision through regular home visits and phone calls. Carers and their families also have access to the Family Spirit Care for the Carer package which includes:
- Initial and ongoing training
- Access to our Carer Assistance Program which includes free counselling support for each family member
- 24-hour on call support
- Scholarships to systemic Sydney Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Sydney
- Financial support
- Monthly newsletter
- Social events for carers and families
Find out more about the training and support on offer.
What type of care is required?
The type of care required will depend on the need of each child or young person. Care options include:
- Emergency care: being available 24-hours a day for a child in crisis
- Respite care: short stays that provide parents or foster carers with a much needed break
- Short term care: providing care for a period of time while working with families for the safe return of the child to their family
- Kinship care: caring for a child that is related to you
- Long term care: providing permanent foster care for a child until they are 18 years of age. This can include guardianship and adoption, where it is appropriate for the child or young person
- Pre-adoptive care: caring for newborn babies while the birth parents consider adoption
Find out more about our flexible care options.
Is support available to my own children if we become foster carers?
Family Spirit recognises the importance of supporting the whole family. Your children are included in the process to ensure they are comfortable with their family caring for other children and young people.
Do I need a big house to be a carer?
Your home needs to be child friendly and safe. You will need to provide the child/ren with their own bed, but they can share a bedroom with a sibling, but not with an adult or one of your children.
To find out more about becoming a carer and what’s involved, register for an upcoming information session.
Will I receive financial assistance?
All carers receive a tax-free allowance to help cover day-to-day expenses for the child such as food, clothing, education, travel and leisure activities.
Do I need to pay school fees for my foster child?
If your foster child attends a systemic Sydney Catholic School in the Archdiocese of Sydney you have access to a bursary that covers school fees. This applies to primary and secondary school students.
Can I foster if I’m single?
Yes, we welcome applications from people who are single, with or without children, as well as couples in stable relationships. We will help you explore your network of family and friends to support you.
Can I work and become a foster carer?
Can I foster a child if I have my own children?
Yes you can. We ask that your youngest child is two years older than a foster child to ensure the needs of both children can be met.
What if I want to adopt a child that I foster?
In some cases this may be possible if this is in the best interests of the child. As an accredited adoptions agency, Family Spirit is able to train and authorise carers to become both foster carers and adoptive parents.
How does the application process work?
What are my rights and responsibilities as a foster carer?
As a foster carer, you have the right to:
- Be valued in your role as a carer and be treated with respect
- Receive training and support from Family Spirit
- Receive clear directions around the requirements of Family Spirit
- Access the personal information Family Spirit holds on your file
- Be provided with information about Family Spirit’s complaints process
As a foster carer, you are responsible for:
- Following the carer code of conduct and policies of Family Spirit
- Respecting a child’s connection to their birth family, and supporting contact with them
- Assisting the child with maintaining connections with their culture and to practice their religion
- Following the behaviour management policy of the agency
- Ensuring the child’s health and educational needs are met
- Working with the case plan for the child and communicating with the agency regarding the child’s needs
Open your home to a child in need
As a foster carer, you can help a child or young person find a place to call home. Offer them the security, care and sense of belonging they deserve and enrich your own life knowing you'll have a significant and long-lasting effect on their wellbeing.
Be a part of the solution.