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Fostering FAQs

Your foster care questions answered
Why are children placed in foster care?

Children and young people come into foster care for a range of reasons. In most cases, it’s because their parents are unable to care for them at that point in time. There could be neglect or substance abuse, domestic and family violence or an unsafe home environment. In most cases, the aim of foster care is to reunite children with their families. If it is safe, the best place for a child to be is in the care of their family.

Are there different types of foster care?

Yes, there are different care arrangements that all aim to support the unique needs of each individual child and their family. Mercy Community supports the following types of foster care: 

Respite care  

Respite care is for short periods of time, often when children and their full-time carers need a break. Ideally, respite care is planned, for example, for a weekend or month, or as part of the school holidays. However, if there is an emergency in a carer’s household, respite can be needed at short notice. 

Emergency care  

Emergency care is needed when children or young people need somewhere safe to stay at very short notice. Emergency carers often provide care after-hours or on weekends, and usually for short periods of time, such as a few days or weeks.  

Short-term care  

Short-term care generally lasts for up to two years and has a strong focus on reuniting the child with their parents or extended family. 

Long-term care  

Long term care is needed when a child or young person is not expected to return to their family. Longer-term carers make a commitment to caring for a child or young person until they reach adulthood and often beyond.  

How do I know if I am eligible to become a foster carer?

If you are over 18 years of age, are eligible for a blue card and are an Australian citizen or permanent resident, we’d love to hear from you. A great way to begin the process of finding out whether you could be a foster carer is to take our quiz. 

Can I be a foster carer if I work full-time?

Yes, you can. You would just need to be able to demonstrate how you are going to manage the additional responsibility of being a foster carer and full-time work. This will involve looking at any meetings that need to take place, family contact for the child, sickness and other child-related events that may impact on your work commitments. You may choose to begin with respite care, as you find your feet as a carer and get a feel for how foster care might become a bigger part of your life. No matter what kind of foster care you elect to provide, we’ll work with you to help you determine whether you’re able to give a child the care they need.

What kind of support do foster carers receive?

Mercy Community supports foster carers in a number of ways. First, we make sure you receive the training you need to get started. We provide you with a dedicated Support Worker, who will work with you on your fostering journey. We also offer after-hours support and guidance, for those challenging moments when you need guidance. As a carer you’ll be eligible for an allowance (see the FAQ on financial support) as well as attending ongoing training and be part of support programs to help you develop your skills as a carer. Finally, we make sure our carers have the chance to connect with each other at social events and through external supports.

Do I have a choice when it comes to which child I foster?

As part of the assessment process, you can suggest the age, gender and behaviours of a child that you would like to be placed with you if you are approved. When we identify you as a potential match for a child we will share the information that we have and consult with you on whether you feel the child would be a good fit for you and your family.

Will I need to have contact with the child’s biological parents?

A child’s relationship with their biological parents is incredibly important. The nature of any connection you have with a child’s birth parents will depend on the circumstances of the child, and will be carefully coordinated by the care team. We have many long-term carers who’ve built close connections with the biological parents of the children they foster, which has had a very positive impact on everyone involved, particularly the children.

Will I be asked to foster children with disabilities?

We do receive regular referrals for children with disabilities and additional needs, and there is a shortage of carers for these types of children. The needs of children will be matched to your skillset and preference however if you are particularly interested in caring for a child with a disability, we will support you in doing this.

Will I receive any financial support?

Yes, carers do receive financial assistance to offset the costs of providing foster care. This allowance may cover items such as food, clothing, household provisions, gifts, pocket money, entertainment and other everyday costs of caring for a child. The amount of the allowance is tailored to the age of the child and the complexity of their needs. It is important to know that the foster care allowance won’t cover all the costs associated with raising a child.

Can members of the LGBTQIA+ community become foster carers?

Absolutely. If you are part of the LGBTQIA+ community and are interested in becoming a foster carer, we encourage you to get the ball rolling and take our introductory quiz.

How is Mercy Community different to other foster care agencies?

The service offered by Mercy Community is very similar to many foster care agencies within Australia, and we see these other agencies as our sector colleagues—not our competitors. We are all working towards the same goal: to protect and care for children and young people who have already experienced harm or have been at risk of experiencing significant harm. 

Mercy Community covers South East Queensland, which may be different to other foster care agencies.

How long does it take to become a foster carer?

To make sure that every foster care applicant meets all the requirements set out in the Child Protection Act 1999, the process may take 9 to 12 months.