What is Anglicare foster care?
New foster carers 2016
Anglicare Southern Queensland is an Anglican non-for-profit organisation committed to social and community welfare issues and aged and community care needs.
We are a proud member of the Anglicare Australia network and provide care and support services in partnership with government and other support agencies.
Anglicare has been providing foster care programs in Queensland since 1990. We recruit, train, assess and support foster and kinship carers and provide quality placements to children and young people who have been referred to us by the government.
What is foster care and kinship care?
Carers with our foster and kinship care programs provide ‘out-of-home’ care for children and young people when they need it most. Carers provide care in their own homes for children and young people who cannot live with their family because they have been harmed or are at risk of harm.
Carers are ordinary people who make an extraordinary difference in the lives of the children and young people they look after. By providing a safe, secure and supportive home, carers make a huge difference to vulnerable children and young people.
The Queensland Government Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services are responsible for approving carers. Non-government agencies, such as Anglicare then support carers to provide quality care in their own homes to children in need.
Kinship care is provided by a person who is a relative, considered to be family, a close friend, or a member of the child or young person's community.
Foster and kinship carers are part of a team of people who work to provide safe and supportive environments for vulnerable children and young people. The care team includes the child, the child’s family, the Department of Communities (Child Safety Services) and the foster care program. Carers may also collaborate with schools, medical personnel, therapists and any other people who are involved in supporting the needs of the child.
Children in care can be aged from birth to 18. They come from different cultural, religious and socio-economic backgrounds and may have special care needs. They have all experienced separation from their biological family together with its accompanying sense of grief and loss. They may also have experienced neglect, physical, emotional or sexual abuse.
The time a child spends in foster care varies greatly – it can be from a few nights up to years depending on the individual circumstances. Some carers provide placements for children for short or long periods while others provide emergency placement. Others also provide respite care to other foster carers to help them maintain their primary placements.
As a foster carer, you will be asked to identify the type of placement you are able to offer. This will be reviewed on a regular periodic basis. If possible, children and young people are placed with carers located within their own community. It is important that children are able to maintain their links with their family, friends, school and other aspects of their lives that are important to them. By doing this the risk of distress is lessened and the likelihood of children being reunited with their families is increased.
Where possible and appropriate, the department encourages the placement of siblings together with the same carers in order to maintain family bonds and a sense of identity.
We need foster carers of different cultures particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. We have a large number of children and young adults who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and we are dedicated to ensuring that the foster care we provide respects and helps maintain a child's cultural identity.
Types of care provided to children and young people
There are various types of support that foster carers can provide. These include:
Kinship care: This is provided by a person who is a relative, someone who is considered to be family or a close friend, or is a member of the child’s community, thus helping to maintain family connections. For Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children, a kinship carer may be another indigenous person who is a member of their community, a compatible community or from the same language group.
Short- term foster care placements: Children or young people are looked after for a short period of time ranging from overnight to a few months until the difficulties at home are resolved or alternative arrangements are made.
Long- term foster care placements: This is for children who are unable, for whatever reason, to return to their biological parents. These arrangements can be in place until the child reaches adulthood and is ready to live independently.
Respite: This usually involves children living with their own family or with foster carers but have a short break with another foster family to give the main carers a break. Children may stay for short periods such as a weekend or during holidays on a regular basis. It is generally preferred that respite carers are involved with the same child in order to provide stability.
“We became foster carers after taking a few years to decide whether it was something we really wanted to do due to our lifestyle being described as ‘full on’ with social events through our church. In deciding what placements to take on as foster carers, we decided that respite would be our preferred option. This would allow us to maintain our current lifestyle and also help other carers who had permanent care of children.” Andrew and Nicole, respite carers.
“I still have my own life, but a couple of weekends a month I give some wonderful carers a much-needed break and get to spend time helping these kids feel loved and support. While I only play a small part in their lives, it’s an important one.” Kasey, a respite carer
Emergency foster care placements: Some children need a safe place to stay immediately for a few nights or a week. Sometimes there is very little notice of when this help is needed. Children may require these placements while their situation is assessed or a longer-term placement is arranged.
“Our first placement, six-year-old April was an emergency placement that was to last three days while her primary carer was going to hospital. We accepted this placement knowing that the time frame to provide care was specific. Unfortunately, due to complications with surgery, Rose stayed in hospital for an extra two nights and with recovery time on top, we were asked to extend the time we could care for April to a week. This was difficult for us as we both work, however, with the help of our agency and the child safety officer we got through the week. We continue to provide respite for April every month.”Andrew and Nicole, emergency carers.
Provisionally-approved carers: Family members or people already known to a child or young person can be provisionally approved to provide an immediate placement while applications for foster or respite care are assessed.
Provisional approval is valid for a maximum of 60 days and may be extended for a further 30. To be provisionally approved, a person must be assessed to be suitable to care for a specific child.
Intensive foster carers: Intensive foster care provides placements and intensive support for children in out-of-home care who require therapeutic support for complex and extreme levels of need. Children are placed in the home of an approved foster or kinship carers with intensive support provided by a non-government foster care service such as Anglicare. Intensive foster carers may also have to complete additional specialist training to cater for a child's particular physical or emotional needs.
Who needs foster care?
The number of children requiring out-of-home care has increased by 27 per cent over the past five years and now stands at approximately 40,000 nationally. As the number of children and young people needing care increases so too does the number of foster carers needed.
Children in foster care are all unique and require individualised responses to their needs. Building a trusting and caring relationship with the child is vital. These children need to feel secure and accepted into their carers' families. Carers with children of their own have to balance the needs of their own children with those of the child in care.
Whenever possible, the goal of foster care placements is to care for children until they can be reunited with their biological families and carers are encouraged to maintain an ongoing relationship for children with their natural families with the view to these children going home when safe and appropriate. Carers may support young people to develop the skills that will enable them to successfully live independently in the future.
Anglicare is dedicated also to ensuring that the care provided to children and young people who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander allows them to maintain their cultural identity.
Who can provide foster care?
Foster and kinship carers make an extraordinary contribution by providing a safe, stable and supportive environment to children and young people at risk. Individuals, couples or families, no matter what age, background or family circumstances can be foster carers.
Anglicare does not discriminate on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, relationship status or work status. All applications are considered, based on the person's ability to provide stable and secure home for children.
Carers are needed in all metropolitan and rural areas of Queensland. They need to have enough space in their homes to care for children and young people as well as the time to commit to meeting the children’s needs.
As with many things, it is important for carers to have an abundance of patience and empathy. Helping to maintain ongoing relationships between children and their families to support family reunification is an important role for foster carers.
“I always wanted to be a carer, but never thought I’d find the time. I thought I should wait until I got married and owned my own home before I ventured into caring. But when I took the plunge, as a single person living on my own, I had plenty of time to reflect on my decision and ease into it while I did the training.” Kasey, a carer
Why become a foster carer?
Carers perform a vital role in our child protection system. They share their homes with vulnerable children and support them during an emotionally complex and bewildering time in their lives.
Carers can have a positive impact on a child’s life which may not be evident until well after the placement has ended.
More carers are needed. Maintaining a sufficient number of foster carers will help prevent children and young children who need care being placed outside of their community.
The role – though challenging – can also be rewarding for those who choose to make a difference in the lives of children and young people in need.
These rewards include:
- Helping to ensure the safety and well-being of children and young people
- Welcoming them into your home so they feel loved and accepted
- Making a positive difference in the life of a child by providing them with a stable home that will have a positive effect on their mental health, education, self esteem and confidence through to adulthood
- Attaining fulfillment by using your own skills and life experiences for the benefit of vulnerable children and young people in the community
- Helping parents to develop new parenting skills
- Supporting a child’s continuing involvement with their family and culture.
- Getting to know different children, making new friends and expanding your role within the community
- Seeing the children go home to their natural families - knowing that you as a carer have contributed to giving them a positive experience in care
Is foster caring right for you?
Becoming a carer is a major decision. All the issues and challenges need to be weighed up objectively against the possible rewards of the role. It is vital to discuss this decision with all people involved.
The following are characteristics that will be useful to be an effective carer:
- Willingness to meet the legislated Standards of Care that must be provided to children in foster care placements
- Ability to relate to children and young people of all cultures, socio-economic backgrounds, religious beliefs and family structures
- Ability to provide a safe and nurturing environment
- An understanding of the social and emotional development needs of children and young people
- The time to commit to caring for children and the space available at home
- Support from all members of the household
- Satisfactory health to cope with the demands of providing care
- Willingness to work with the department, the children and their family in a non-judgemental way, to support reunification so children can wherever possible safely return home.
- Ability to work with all members of the care team
- Respect for the confidentiality and privacy of children, young people and their families
- Ability to use a range of positive behavior support strategies and a willingness to comply with the prohibition of various forms of discipline, including physical punishment.
- Commitment to continued learning and self development
Key qualities of successful carers include:
- Empathy and compassion
- Patience and resilience
- Flexibility and adaptability
- Stickability – be there for as long as needed to provide secure and stable placements
- Good communication skills
- A sense of humour
“My foster mum has been a great role model for me over the last few years. She’s given me the chance to be a better person by believing in me and giving me opportunities to grow. Some of the best qualities about her are that she’s a nice person, has a big heart and is an understanding person.” A foster child
Challenges of becoming a carer
Confidentiality: carers are provided with many personal details about the children they care for and their families. Carers are required to observe strict rules of confidentiality. It can be a challenge at times to observe this but carers must always ensure that details are not discussed.
Home environment: Carers will need to have a separate room for the children placed with them. It may be possible for children in care to be placed in the same room as your own children but this will restrict the age and sex of the children who can be placed with you.
Carers who work: You can still work and be a carer. However, this will limit the placements you are able to consider as primary carers to need to provide transport to school, medical/counselling and other appointments, including family contact.
Self care: Carers need to ensure they make time for themselves to maintain their own health and well-being so they can meet the needs of their foster child.
Carers need to cope with their child or young person leaving their home at the end of the placement.
Children are often reunited with their families or may transition to independent living.
Everyone in the home, including your own children (if any), will need to be prepared to take on fostering.
“I am pleased that Anglicare staff regularly enquire about my daughter, and the impact of having the foster children in our home affects her. They genuinely care about her well-being and are there to listen if she needs someone to talk.” Feedback from a foster carer recorded in our carer satisfaction survey.
Children and young people requiring care will have experienced grief and loss from the separation from their biological family. This traumatic experience can result in children displaying pain-based behaviours which can be challenging. You will need to be open to learning new ways of parenting to respond.
Providing foster or kinship care can place additional stress on families and relationships. It is important to consider this when considering foster or kinship care. It may require finding a balance between looking after your own family and caring for your foster child. Sometimes it might be better to postpone becoming a carer until there is a more appropriate time in your life.
“While not perfect parents, we thought we’d give it a go. As caregivers, we have experienced a lot of joy and satisfaction in being able to provide a good home and stable environment for children.” Alan and Heather, foster carers
How do I become a foster carer?
The time from your first enquiry to actually becoming a foster carer may appear lengthy. All the steps involved are important to establishing that fostering is right for you and ensuring the safety of any child placed with you.
Some of the key steps to becoming a foster carer include:
- Register your expression of interest in becoming a foster carer. Anglicare will contact you to discuss next steps with you and to confirm your contact details
- Attend an information session and complete an enquiry form
- A home visit from Anglicare. A household safety study will be completed. The study assesses the safety of your household premises and your commitment to safe practices around children and young people. Where mandatory requirements are not met, advice will be given as to how to meet those requirements. It is also a time to talk to Anglicare about any questions you have on becoming a foster carer.
- Attend Quality Care: Foster Care Training. This is a mandatory training course provided by the Department of Communities.
- Completion of a number of forms including consent for personal history checks, application for blue card, health and well-being checks and referee checks.
- Initial carer assessment is completed. An Anglicare worker will visit your home on six to eight occasions to interview you about aspects of your life experience and skills that are relevant to fostering. Other members of your household may also be interviewed as part of this process.
- The completed initial assessment is presented to you for review before being submitted for approval.
- Once approved you will be used with a Certificate of Approval as a registered foster carer by the Department of Communities (Child Safety). You will then start with Anglicare as a valued member of our foster care team.
How do I become a kinship carer?
Once you have made the decision that you are interested in being a kinship carer, there are a number of steps you go through to become an approved kinship carer. The aim of this process is to make sure you and members of your family are safe and suitable people to provide care to children who have experienced harm. The approval process will also consider your ability to help work towards achieving goals for the safety, care and protection of children or young people and your ability to provide an appropriate quality of care.
We encourage you to call on 1300 610 610 and speak with a member of our team. We can talk with you over the phone and answer any questions you may have.
Where are we located?
Brisbane region (Wynnum, Stones Corner, Mount Gravatt and Forest Lake)
Caboolture and Redcliffe
Roma and surrounding towns
South East Region (Logan, Gold Coast and Bayside)
Foster carers are required throughout Queensland. If you do not live in an area covered by an Anglicare program, we will forward your enquiry to the appropriate service in your area, to Foster Care Queensland or to the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services.
What support is available for you as a foster carer with Anglicare?
A foster care case worker is assigned to visit and support you and to maintain communication about children placed with you. Home visits usually occur once a fortnight or once a month depending on your needs and the needs of the children placed with you.
97% of carers tell us they receive regular support and supervision from Anglicare and 91% say home visits are purposeful and assist the carer to provide quality care to children and young people in care.
“Home visits are definitely worthwhile. Talking to someone from Anglicare often just provides a listening ear, although sometimes we’ve been given new skills, reading material or a different point of view to consider. This has been very helpful.” Celeste and Barry, foster carers
"The home visits make us feel that we are not alone while caring for the children. We need reassuring that we are making the right choices for the children in our care and their families." Bob and Julie, foster carers
Other support and training provided by Anglicare to help carers in the fostering role includes:
- 24-hour on-call support
- Ongoing in-service training
- Support group meetings
- Organised social activities with other foster carers and their families
- Respite care
- Counselling, if required
- Financial support – allowances paid by the government to reimburse you towards the costs of caring for foster children.
Foster care Myth Busting
For anyone looking in from the outside, it can be difficult to understand some of the realities of foster care. Some common misconceptions include the following:
- Foster care is long term care or can lead to adoption...
- Children and young people often return to their families and successful reunification with their biological family is often the main aim of a foster care placement. Foster carers play an important role in helping children and young people to maintain contact with their families while the process of reunification occurs.
- Foster children need rescuing from ‘broken homes’...
- Children and young people can come into foster care for many different reasons. Although the family unit is temporarily fractured, they may have one or both parents who are doing everything they are required to do to be reunited with their children. Foster carers play an important role encouraging this process and readying children/young people for reunification if this is planned.
- Carers make money from having foster children...
- Carers receive an allowance as reimbursement towards the costs of caring for a child/young person in foster care. This allowance is modest, as evidenced by the fact it is not considered by the Australian Tax Office to be income, and therefore is not taxed.
- Foster care is easy...
- Being in a parenting role brings challenges and rewards, no matter what the circumstances are that bring children into care. Children and young people in foster care are all unique. They bring with them their own perspectives, hopes and memories that they will process in different ways. Children and young people in care have experienced harm, abuse, separation and loss. These traumatic experiences result in many children and young people displaying pain-based behaviours which may at times be challenging to manage.
- Foster carers are not subject to sufficient screening and abuse in care is prevalent...
- This misconception is common, as news media reports tend to focus on negative outcomes for children and young people rather than on the vital role being performed by most foster carers. That being said, such abuse does occur and should never be tolerated. In order to minimise the risk to children and young people, all foster carer applicants undergo a rigorous process of background screening, pre-service training and assessment interviews before they are approved and have children/young people placed with them. Part of the role of Anglicare is to monitor the standards of care provided to children and young people through regular home visits.
- Foster children present with challenging or extreme behaviours that we can fix...
- Children and young people in care are individuals. They need love and compassion and respect, but this may not be enough, no matter how much you have to give. Some children and young people may act-out the effects of trauma they have experienced, whilst others may show no outward signs. Children and young people in foster care may require a range of resources to help them through the difficult time in their lives. Some may attend counselling to assist them, and for some healing will be a long-term process.
- Foster children will be grateful to me and quickly learn to “fit in” with my family...
- Like other children and young people, those in foster care usually come from families who they love, however they have been placed in a situation where they have been taken from everything they know. Although foster carers may leave a lasting positive impact on children and young people, it is often in a way that may never be expressed in words.
- There is no need for more foster carers...
- We need more carers. The number of children and young people in care continues to increase, whilst it has proven difficult to match this with the number of new carers being recruited.
- Foster carers have no input into decisions about the child...
- Foster carers are responsible for the direct and daily care of children and young people who are placed with them. As such, their input is vital, as they are the heart of the care team for any child/young person placed with them. Department of Communities (Child Safety) holds case responsibility for any placements, and are responsible for the goals and implementation of the placement and many decisions regarding children and young people, such as medical treatment. Depending on the legal status regarding the child/young person, parents may also have rights regarding some decisions affecting the child/young person placed in care. Together with the foster carer, Anglicare will provide the department with their views and wishes for the child so that the child’s needs can be met.
- Foster carers have no say in what children are placed with them...
- Foster carers are volunteers. There is no requirement for them to accept any particular placement offered to them. Carers, however, are asked to identify the type of placements they can offer. Placement preferences are recorded and include items such as age, gender, type and length of care offered, behaviour carers are willing to manage, availability for transport etc.
Become a foster carer
We encourage you to call on 1300 610 610 and speak with a member of our foster care team. We can talk with you over the phone and answer any questions you may have. We can also provide you with details of the regular information evenings conducted by Anglicare that applicants are encouraged to attend.
You are also welcome to register your interest online in becoming a foster carer.
You can also contact Foster Care Queensland and the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services for more information