Thinking about becoming a foster carer is a big deal and you probably have a lot of questions. Here are a few of the ones we get asked the most. If you can’t find an answer to your question here, please get in touch to speak to one of our team.
1. Who can become a foster carer?
Anyone can apply to become a foster carer with us. We work with foster carers who are single, married, co-habiting, divorced, gay, lesbian and heterosexual. We also recruit foster carers from different religious and cultural backgrounds. There are a few requirements we ask for before you can become a foster carer and you can learn more about those on our who can foster page.
2. Can I foster if I have a criminal conviction?
A criminal conviction won’t necessarily stop you from fostering. It depends on your conviction and when it happened. It’s standard for us to check criminal records at an early stage though, so you should let us know as soon as you can. We keep everything you share with us confidential.
3. What checks are carried out on me and my household?
All the adults in your home (including children 16yrs and over) will need to have police check and Working with Children Check (for adults over 18yrs), as well as other suitability checks through child protection agencies. You will also need to complete a health questionnaire and GP medical exam, provide three personal references, pass a standard Housing Safety check and have a current pool compliance certificate if you have a swimming pool. You can find out more about what’s involved on our steps to foster page.
4. If I’m the primary foster carer, do other members of the household need to be checked?
We see all couples living together as partners in the fostering process, so you will both need to take part in the necessary checks, training and assessments. We also need to carry out checks on anyone in the household over the age of 16, even if you’re the main carer.
5. Could a child I foster share a bedroom with one of my own children?
We will generally only place a child in a home where he or she will have their own bedroom. If they’re part of a sibling group, they may be able to share with their own brothers or sisters.
6. Can I still go out to work and be a foster carer?
We provide care for lots of different children with a range of needs. Some children will need their foster carer to be at home with them full-time, whereas working part-time might be an option with other foster children. You will always need to be available for your foster child, though.
7. Can I choose how long I want children and young people to stay with me?
We’ll talk to you about the different types of foster care placements and help you choose which ones might suit you best. It isn’t always possible to know how long a child will need to stay with you, though.
8. Can I choose which age group or sex I would prefer to foster?
Yes, you can. But you’re far more likely to have continuous placements if you are willing to foster children of all ages. In New South Wales, we’re currently facing a shortage of foster carers for older children and children who have high and complex needs.
9. How much will I know about the child or young person before they’re placed with me?
We’ll discuss every potential placement with you. It’s always up to you whether to take a child or young person. We’ll give you as much information about them as we can to help you make an informed decision. Sometimes we have very little information, especially in an emergency. But we always try to find out as much information as we can, as quickly as we can.
10. Will I be taxed on the fostering allowances I receive?
Foster care allowances don’t count as income, so aren’t taxed. It won’t affect applications for Commonwealth benefits or loan applications, either. You can find out more about specific allowances on our fostering allowances page.
11. What is the difference between Family and Community Services NSW and a non-government agency like Key Assets?
A non-government agency like us provides day-to-day support for foster carers as well as case management, where delegated by Family and Community Services NSW.