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What to expect as a foster carer

Children and teenagers who come into care often come from families affected by a range of issues that can impact their emotional maturity and development. It may take some time for them to adjust to living with a new family. Sometimes this can be expressed with anger, anxiety or difficult behaviour.

Carers need to be sensitive to the child’s experience of leaving their own family, despite difficult circumstances, and living with someone new. You don't do this alone. Caseworkers help carers and children to overcome any problems they may experience. This includes providing support, information and referrals to specialist treatment where necessary.

How will fostering affect my children?

When adults make a decision to become foster carers they also make the decision for their children to become part of a family that fosters. Fostering is a very significant change in anyone's life, even more so for the children within the family.

It's important that you talk to your children about fostering and prepare them for any impact it may have on the family. While children are growing up, they may be more able to foster at certain times and less able at other times.

It's not unheard of for a family to take a break from fostering for a short period, for instance when a child of the family is taking their school exams.

Will fostering affect my benefits or tax?

No, the foster care allowance is currently not taxed and does not impact on any benefits that you may be receiving from Centrelink.

Contact between the child and their family while in foster care

In nearly all cases children will want to maintain contact with their families during the time they are in foster care. Research shows that children who do keep in regular contact with their families tend to do better in foster care than those who, for whatever reason, lose touch.

It's important that you encourage them to maintain contact with their family and help to make this happen as appropriate to their needs. Contact can include letters, phone calls and pre-arranged visits.

Foster care training

Communities and Justice (DCJ) carers receive training and assessment. The training is designed to give you realistic information about foster caring and help you understand how children’s life experiences shape their capacities.

Your caseworker can help with support from psychologists, remedial teachers, respite care and other health services, depending on the child’s needs as identified in case planning.

There are also many foster care support groups around NSW where carers can build support networks with other carers in the area. See the Support contact list

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Last updated: 12 Feb 2021