Steps to become a foster carer
From start to finish, the journey to become a foster carer takes around six months. This page outlines the different steps involved.
Learn about foster care and being a carer
To decide if foster care is something for you, it's a good idea to learn a little about the roles and responsibilities of a foster carer.
In South Australia, Foster Care Services provides information about becoming a foster carer.
You may also be invited to attend an information session. Information sessions are usually attended by small groups of people who are interested in becoming foster carers.
Make contact with a foster care agency
To express your interest in being a foster carer, make contact with a foster care agency.
The agency will send you an information pack with information to help you make an informed choice about becoming a foster carer.
At every step of the process, you can decide not to proceed. If you have any concerns, you can discuss them with staff of the fostering agency.
Information exchange session and meeting the household
After reading information provided by the foster care agency, if you indicate that you are interested in proceeding, the agency will meet with you to:
- discuss the process in detail
- answer your questions
- meet members of your family/household (if applicable).
Application and checks
The next step involves submitting an application to your foster care agency who will need to carry out checks on you and your family.
- child-related employment screening clearances - through the Department for Human Services Screening Unit - for all adults living at home
- child protection checks (this involves contact with the Department for Child Protection)
- referee checks
- a medical check.
An assessment worker from the fostering agency will also confirm that your home is safe for children.
When the agency receives your application, they will arrange assessment appointments in your home. There will be around six sessions that run for two hours.
The fostering assessment helps you make an informed decision and helps the fostering agency to:
- gain an understanding of your lifestyle and circumstances
- place children who best fit with your lifestyle, family and circumstances
- learn more about your affinity and experience with children.
During these appointments, talking through the issues will help you understand what is involved in being a foster carer.
You will need to participate in foster carer training to equip you with the skills needed to provide quality care and give you a better understanding of the foster carer role.
The foster care agency will arrange these training sessions for you.
Training includes learning about:
- identity and birth family contact
- grief and loss
- responding to challenging behaviours
- maintaining cultural connections
- foster care in the South Australian context
- a one-day Child Safe Environments course - all foster carers are mandated notifiers
- apply first aid
- Infant Safe Training - this two-hour session is only for applicants who want to care for children aged under two.
Sometimes assessment will occur after training and sometimes both training and assessment will be run together; it depends on the agency you are working with.
Upon completion of paperwork, checks and training, the foster care agency will discuss the progress of your application.
If all the information demonstrates your household is suitable for fostering, the fostering agency will submit an assessment report to the Department for Child Protection recommending your registration as a foster carer.
Department for Child Protection approval and placements
The Department for Child Protection will:
- approve registration
- ask for further information, or
- not approve the registration.
This is a rigorous and thorough process to ensure that children and young people receive the highest standards of care.
When a carer household is approved, the foster care agency lets them know and begins discussions about arranging a suitable placement of a child or children to the home.
Foster Care Services
Phone 1300 2 FOSTER (1300 2 367 837)