Number of children in foster care.
As of 30 June 2017, there were 47,915 children in out-of-home care in Australia. 93.2% of all children in out-of-care live in home-based care, with 47.2% in relative/kinship care and 37.8% in foster care.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children comprise of 5.5% of all children in Australia yet make up 36.9% of all children in out-of-home care in 2017 (information from Australian Institute of Family Studies).
Agency responsible for foster care in Australia
In Australia each state and territory are legally responsible for its own child welfare services. The responsible agency is the state/territory’s child protection department which may be called a different name in each state/territory.
Who can foster in Australia?
In principle, any adult, single or couple, can become a foster carer in Australia, but you will be assessed to see if you are suitable.
Each state has its own guidelines but in general anyone who fulfils the following requirements may apply to become a foster carer:
be an Australian citizen or permanent resident
be in good health
have a spare bedroom
must have a police check and working with children check
Are there any restrictions on who can foster in Australia?
There is an age restriction – be at least 21 years old in some states and at least 25 years in others.
Payment of foster carers
Regular foster care payments are made in the form of a non-taxable allowance in Australia to cover expenses in caring for a child or young person. The amount varies depending on the age of the child, the type of foster care provided, which state or territory makes the payment, and whether the placement is in a metropolitan or regional location.
Who provides foster care services?
The state and territory department with responsibility provides foster care services but so too do independent agencies.
Fostering and kinship support groups
In Australia there is a network of state-funded foster and kinship care organisations, established in all states and territories, which provide support for foster and kinship carers. The Australian Foster and Kinship Care Partnership is the umbrella group for this network. It is based in Banyo, Queensland and its contact details are:
Phone: +61 7 3256 6166
To get the contact details of one of the affiliate foster and kinship care organisations in Australia’s states and territories click here.
Support groups for young people in care and ageing out of care.
The CREATE Foundation is the national consumer body representing the voices and children and young people with an out-of-home experience. CREATE has an office in each state and territory and has two national offices, one based in Brisbane and the other in Sydney, with the former hosting the senior management of CREATE.
Phone: + 61 (7) 3062 4860
Each state and territory have their own legislation in this area. In 2011 the Australian Government agreed with state and territory governments An Outline of National Standards for Out-of-Home Care.