Fostering occurs when a child is placed in the physical care of someone other than their parents, normally because a parent or parents is unable to care for their child. The time that a child stays in foster care varies considerably from child to child, and depends largely on the age and needs of each child.
Foster carers reflect a broad range of society. The placement of a child with a particular foster family/parent will depend on the health, lifestyle and maturity of the potential foster parent. Importantly, foster care is intended to provide a safe, supportive home for a child who could have particular mental, emotional, behavioural or physical needs.
The Department of Child Protection (“DCP”) facilitates foster care arrangements in Western Australia. All carers are supported through assessment and training, and are safety checked before taking on care of a child.
The most common form of foster care is a child being placed into the care of a relative. The view is taken that, if a child cannot live with their parents, then it is in their best interests to be placed into the care of a family member if possible. Fostering at a family member’s home allows the child to continue familiar relationships and surroundings (particularly important for young foster children), maintaining a personal and cultural identity, keeping the parents of the child involved in the child’s care and keeping siblings who are all removed at once together.
As a result, this type of foster care normally involves an aspect of communication between the child and their biological parents.
However, as there may not always be a relative able or willing to provide care, non-relatives can also foster a child not previously known to them. Foster parents may also be fostering a child with the intention of adopting that child as one of their own.
To contact the DCP about becoming a foster carer, or to find out more, visit their website by clicking here or calling them on (08) 9325 1232.
You can also contact the Foster Care Association of WA (Inc), by visiting their website at www.fcawa.com.au or calling them on (08) 9242 4222.
Finally, you can find further information and support for foster carers at Key Assets. You can visit their website at www.keyassets.com.au or call them on (08) 9207 5900.