What is foster care? Foster carers look after children and young people who are unable to live with their birth family. Foster carers take on the responsibilities of a parent for a period of time, providing a safe, nurturing and secure family life for children or young people needing care. Many foster children and young people have experienced abuse and neglect so they need nurturing, stability, love and attention.
Why do children and young people need care? Children and young people coming into foster care have often experienced significant trauma, neglect and abuse prior to their removal from their birth families. Their parents may be struggling with issues such as drug and/or alcohol abuse, relationship problems, domestic violence, disability and mental health issues.
Why is a child removed from care?
Children and young people are removed from care as they can no longer stay with their birth family due to various circumstances. Foster care supports vulnerable children and young people who have experienced trauma through abuse and neglect, while their birth parents struggle with issues such as physical or mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, family breakdown and homelessness.
What types of foster care are provided? Respite care: Involves regular or occasional short stays for children and young people placed with CatholicCare's Foster Care Program. It may be one weekend a month or a week or two during the school holidays. It gives families a break and provides a positive experience for the child. Crisis care: Is usually provided for a few days immediately following a child's removal from their birth family or a placement breakdown. Short-term care: Can be offered from two weeks up to approximately twelve months. During this time, the NSW Department of Family and Community Services assess the family's capacity to care for and meet the needs of the child/young person and make recommendations to Courts about how best to meet their needs. At the end of the short-term stay the child or young person may be restored to their birth family or placed in long-term care. Long-term care: This is crisis care usually provided for a few days immediately following a child's removal from their birth family or a placement breakdown.
Do I need to be Catholic to be a CatholicCare foster carer? Not at all. We welcome families, couples, and single people from all kinds of backgrounds in order to meet the wide ranging needs of the children and young people who need a loving, nurturing home.
Can I choose the age of the child I would like to foster? During the assessment and authorisation process, CatholicCare invites prospective carers to share their views about the types of care and ages and gender of children/young people they would be willing to care for. These views are considered during the authorisation process and in consultation with you. We work to match the child's needs and those of your family very carefully. The matching process is very important to us to maximise the sucess of teh rplacement and provide stability for the child.
What makes a good foster carer? There is no one quality that makes a 'good' foster carer, however, they often possess the following qualities: - A 'can-do' attitude - Patience, kindness and understanding - Tolerance and acceptance - Empathy and understanding of the effects of trauma - Ability to love, nurture and support a child to fulfill their potential - Good communication and interpersonal skills - Ability to set boundaries and create stability (eg. set routines) CatholicCare welcomes people from diverse backgrounds and family configurations to consider becoming foster carers. You may be single, a couple or a family with your own children (or grandchildren!).
We ask that foster carers have a genuine affection for children and a willingness to commit to making a positive difference in a child or young person's life. Also, we require foster carers to work in partnership with CatholicCare and actively engage in training and other opportunities for skill and knowledge development to continue improving the quality of care provided to children and young people.
What support will I get from CatholicCare? CatholicCare provides a range of support services to foster carers including: - Regular communication and support from our qualified Caseworkers in the form of home visits, telephone and email support, ongoing training and information to help carers meet the needs of the child or young person. - Access to an after hours on-call support telephone number (available 24 hours, 7 days a week for urgent matters). - Advocacy support for children and young people (Caseworkers liaise with people involved in the child's life, including the Department of Family and Community Services, education, health services and birth families) - In some cases, provision of transport and supervised contact with birth family (where the Court orders this) - Financial Support (read 'Do I get paid to be a foster carer?').
Do I get paid to be a foster carer? CatholicCare is funded by NSW Department of Family and Community Services to pay foster carers a financial allowance to assist with their caring role. Carers are expected to spend the carer allowance on day-to-day living expenses required to meet the needs of children and young people, such as food, clothing, basic education, social and recreational activities, personal care expenses, and special needs. CatholicCare may provide some additional support under special circumstances. The allowance rate varies depending on the age and care needs of the child or young person. If you have any more questions about this, please contact us. Foster Care allowance table
Is there an age restriction for foster carers? CatholicCare does not place age restricitions upon carers, however during the assessment phase we gauge carers' health and capacity. We consider this information carefully during the authorisation process as we determine the type(s) of care and age(s) of children/young people.
What if I have a criminal record? Depending on the nature of the offence, you may still be eligible to become a foster carer. Certain crimes, particularly child-related offences, are automatic disqualifiers. We will discuss the results of the criminal record and determine if you are eligible or not.
How do I become a foster carer? 1. The first step is to read CatholicCare’s information pack which will be able to answer some of your initial questions. Download Information Pack 2. The next step is to complete a Registration of Interest form and return it to the Foster Carer Recruitment & Assessment Coordinator, PO Box 1174 Wollongong 2500 or fax it to 42547718. Download registration of interest form 3. A representative from the Foster Care team will then contact you for an informal discussion. If you decide to proceed with the application process, then the formal assessment process begins. CatholicCare uses the Step By Step competency-based assessment tool, developed by the Association of Children's Welfare Agencies (ACWA) in conjunction with AbSec. 4. The assessment process comprises of at least five interviews of about two hours each and a home safety inspection. 5. Applicants are also required to complete Shared Stories Shared Lives (SSSL), a 3-day training course on the fundamentals of foster care. SSSL training is run by CatholicCare at various times during the year. 6. Once the assessment is completed, the Executive Manager Children & Youth Services makes recommendations to the Director. You will be advised of the outcome of the assessment process in writing. Applicants have the right to appeal any decision made by CatholicCare.
How long does it take to become a foster carer? The time-frame for completion of the assessment varies due to many different factors, including the scheduling of information and training sessions and your availability for interviews. On average it takes about 6-9months to complete the authorisation process, although sometimes it can occur more quickly and sometimes it takes longer.
Do children in foster carer have contact with their birth family? Children usually continue to have visits with their birth parents and extended family. Many of these visits are supervised through our Foster Care Program. The frequency and length of these visits is determined by the Court based on the child's age, needs and best interests.
Do foster carers meet the birth family? In some cases yes, but this varies according to the needs of the child and the Court orders in place.
Can I adopt a foster child in my care? In some cases, CatholicCare can assist foster carers to adopt children in their care. However, foster care is not a certain path to adoption, but it can happen in certain circumstances.
Does the child need their own bedroom? A bedroom must be available for a foster child, although this can be shared with another child where appropriate, such as two fostered siblings who are of the same gender and close in age.
What if my children do not want a child in foster care living with us? During the assessment process, our staff consult all family members' and take their perspectives into account prior to authorisation. Prior to applying, it is important that you speak with your children about fostering and ask them how they feel about it. If your child/ren are clear that they do not want to share their toys, home and parents with another child, this should be respected.
I am already an authorised foster carer with another agency. Can I become a foster carer with CatholicCare instead? Yes, you may apply. CatholicCare welcomes carers currently authorised by other agencies, in particular NSW Community Services, who wish to transition to a Non-Government Organisation (NGO) as part of the Out of Home Care (OoHC) transition process. If you wish to join CatholicCare please discuss this with our staff. The process can commence once you are already registered can then release information to us. CatholicCare has developed a tailored assessment process specifically for authorised foster carers who apply to transfer from another agency.
We welcome your inquiry so please contact CatholicCare on (02) 4227 1122 or
for more information about foster care.
What does the service do?
This Children's Contact Service (CCS) provides supervised contact visits and changeover services for families who are experiencing conflict after separation. We act in the best interest of the kids at all times.
Who can use the service?
You can use the CCS if your youngest child is no older than 12 years; and both parents agree to use us OR there is interim Court Order saying you need to apply.
You can't use the service if: If your Final Court Order recommends on-going Supervised Contact and it is unlikely that your family will be able to self manage your contact arrangements into the future.
What is self management? When the family no longer needs to be supervised during visits with their kids; OR when a family member or someone other than the CCS can supervise visits; OR when the conflict during Changeovers reduces and parents can manage without our help.
What if NSW Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS) are involved? If the children are not in the care of either parent then you might not be eligible for the CCS. It might be best that you get your FaCS case worker to call us too.
What is the application process? 1. Each parent is required to lodge their application to use the service by contacting the relevant children's contact service on the number below: a. Wollongong and Nowra: 4254 7777 b. Campbelltown: 4628 0044 2. Once both parties lodged their applications, we will schedule the first available appointment to conduct an intake assessment. Notification of the appointment will be made by post or email. 3. The parties will be required to complete and bring with them to their appointment all relevant documents e.g. CCS application forms, legal documentation etc. 4. If either party does not attend for the scheduled appointment and does not call to reschedule, we will suspend our involvement and inform all parties as to the reason. 5. It will be the responsibility of the party's and their legal representative to follow up on the other party's non-compliance with the CCCS intake process.
6. Until both parents have completed their intake assessments the family will not be placed on the waiting list for service.
What happens at an intake assessment?
During the intake assessment one of our staff will meet separately with the kids and each parent. Parents will not see each other during the intake assessments as they are conducted at different times. We conduct intake assessments to find out the needs of each family and make sure that the kids will be happy during the visits. This assessment also helps us ensure the kids, staff and parents will be safe when coming to the CCS.
How long do I have to wait to use the service? Unfortunately, there is often a waiting list as most families using the CCS are going through the court process. This can effect how long new families need to wait before they can start using our service. Waiting times may also be effected by other factors. For example, how long since the kids haven't seen one of their parents; the age of the kids; how many supervised visits a family needs before moving to self management; how motivated each parent is to complete their intake assessments; and whether you want us to help with supervising visits or changeovers. Please see our Waiting List for up-to-date waiting times.
Is there a fee? The Commonwealth Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) require us to collect fees from both parents. Fees are collected for the intake assessments and for Supervised Contact visits and Changeover. We aim to ensure that these fees are affordable to both parents.
Please see our Fee Policy for up-to-date information.