Foster Carer 2019
Making the commitment to become a foster carer is a very important decision, for you, and for your family. We suggest, that before proceeding, that you have first considered the information given in the What we Need in a Carer and the Frequently Asked Questions sections.
If you would like to ask some more questions – contact a member of the Foster Care Recruitment Team
If you are ready to take the next step. Read on . . .
The application process to become a foster carer is quite lengthy but it is very important that we get it right. Each stage of the process provides valuable information to us about your suitability to be a foster carer and whether foster care is the best fit for you and most importantly for your family. At Communities Tasmania we take it very seriously to make sure that it is in everyone's best interests for you to be approved as a foster carer. We will talk with your children, extended family and even some of your friends because a child or young person doesn’t just come to visit, they become a part of your family for the period that they are in your care.
We want you to be very certain of taking on the role of foster care. If at any time during the process you feel that foster care is not right for you and your family, you can withdraw from the process.
You may have been thinking about fostering for some time or want some more information to help you decide whether fostering is right for you and your family. As a first step into fostering you can talk to one of the Foster Care Recruitment Team (FCRT). They can answer all your questions and send you an information pack.
You can formally express interest in receiving more information by completing the Registration of Interest. Once we receive that by email or post, a member of the FCRT team will arrange a phone call or home visit to discuss foster care in more detail. This is an opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have about the caring role, the checks that need to be conducted, including the Safe Home Safe Practices Check and the training and assessment process. It is also an opportunity for us to meet you and your family and advise of any home safety requirements. It is an opportunity to discuss your family circumstances and how fostering might fit.
Foster carers are not expected to be experts. Caring for children or young people who have experienced trauma requires additional knowledge and different parenting techniques to assist them. Shared Lives training is compulsory training provided for foster carers, their partners and other household members over 18 years.
This training covers:
- Why children come into care
- Abuse and neglect and how this can impact on development
- The importance of attachment and continued contact with birth families
- Repair parenting and strategies to help a child or young person recover from trauma
- Carer self-awareness and self-care
- The importance of support networks and services available to carers.
Shared Lives Foster Care Training is necessary for you to understand the needs of children who have experienced trauma and what they need from carers.
As well as the Shared Lives training, there is also an expectation that carers will attend additional training when it is offered to increase their skills and knowledge in caring for children and young people who have experienced abuse, neglect and trauma.
Once training is completed you will be better placed to decide if you would like to apply to become a foster carer. If you would like to proceed, we will ask you to complete a formal application and we will start a more detailed assessment process. This assessment can take between 3-6 months and needs to be very detailed so that we can get to know you and your family and to ensure that our children will be safe in your care. We want to be able to match children with your family so that placements are successful, and the assessment allows us to learn information that will assist our decisions.
Before the assessment can begin, we must conduct a series of checks on the prospective foster carer/s and any household member over 16 years of age.
These checks include:
- Criminal conviction checks
- Referee checks
- Child safety checks (Australia wide)
- Family violence checks
- Medical checks
- Applications made to other organisations about becoming a foster carer (International)
- Meeting the requirements for obtaining a Working with Vulnerable People Registration.
A recorded conviction does not necessarily prevent you from becoming a foster carer. The nature of the offence and your age at the time are factors that are considered when assessing your application.
Having previous involvement with the Communities Tasmania (formerly the Department of Health and Human Services) does not mean that you will be assessed as not suitable but the outcomes of any contact with Child Safety Services will be considered when assessing your application.
The Step by Step assessment process is designed to enable both you and Communities Tasmania to make an informed decision about your suitability as a foster carer and whether caring is right for you and your family.
At each stage of the process, the foster carer assessor will be available to offer information or the identification of any issues that could affect your ability to provide care.
Becoming a foster carer means taking on an important responsibility and you will be asked about many aspects of your life, including:
- Motivation to become a foster carer
- Attachments with your own parents and family (including your own children)
- Financial stability
- History of trauma, loss and grief, as well as how you deal with stress
- Relationship with your partner and others in your family
- Support networks
- Ability to understand developmental trauma and how to provide nurturing care to children
- Ability to work within a team to support a child or young person in your care.
As part of the assessment you will be asked to prepare a story of your life from when you were growing up in your family to the present time. We will also ask you to prepare a Welcome Book for children who may be coming to your home.
Your assessor will contact you to advise if you have been successful in becoming a foster carer. Once you have been approved, you will be asked to sign a Foster Carer Agreement. Approval is on an annual basis and carers are reviewed each year.
Foster carers can express a preference for the type of care that they feel will best suit their circumstances and the assessor may also recommend what they feel would best suit your family. We advise that carers start with respite care and move on to full time care, if that is your preference. No amount of assistance is too little, it is most important to see that it fits you and your family.
Communities Tasmania will endeavour to place children who are younger than your own. While there are some exceptions, this is the model of best practice when placing children in OoHC
What if I am not Approved?
If your application to be a foster carer for Communities Tasmania is not approved, you can seek a review of this decision or to get feedback on the reasons why. The material collected throughout the application process is not done in secret and you have a right to view any of the information collected along the way. Only the personal references are treated as confidential unless otherwise authorised by the referee.
At any stage of the process or at any of the assessment sessions, it is your right to ask to see any notes and the assessor can arrange this. If you are not suitable to be a foster carer, you will be informed in person by the assessor, however, you can apply in writing to the Statewide Manager of and Adoptions and Permanency Services to have the decision reviewed.
The Journey continues with OoHC
As a foster carer, you will be trained, prepared for the eventual placement of someone in your care. When you take on fostering you will part of a network, supported by a system and involved as an important part of a Community of Carers. All with an essential part to play.
You will be assigned a Child Safety Officer from the OoHC Team who will be your go to person for any questions. Becoming a carer can be a confusing time with lots of little questions and it is important to ask as you learn how the system works. You can also phone the Foster and Kinship Care Support Line on 1800 732 522 for assistance with ongoing support on .
“I have found on the whole, fostering is very rewarding and having a great support team makes it go a lot smoother in uncertain times regarding the children”