Different types of foster care

There are different types of foster care available.

Respite care

Respite care involves having a child in care for short stays. This could be regular weekends, school holidays, or one-off overnight stays. Respite care gives longer term foster carers a break and allows children to build new relationships and have new experiences.

Emergency care

Emergency foster care may involve an overnight stay or last for up to two weeks. Carers who provide emergency care can be contacted at short notice at any time of the day.

Short-term care

Short-term care can last from two weeks to two years. The aim is to give the birth family some time to manage a difficult issue. The child may then return to their birth family if it's appropriate, or they may be placed in long-term care.

Long-term care

For some children, returning to their birth family is not possible. Long-term care is provided until family circumstances change or until the child turns 18.

Specialist care

Specialist foster carers care for children and young people who have complex needs. This can include children and young people who have suffered trauma and abuse, or who have disabilities or special needs. Specialist carers undertake extra training and receive additional support.

Related information


Foster Care Services
Phone 1300 2 FOSTER (1300 2 367 837)

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Page last updated 2 August 2022

Provided by:
Department for Child Protection
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