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Be a chapter in their story

Become a foster carer

You can make a lasting difference in a child's life as a foster carer.

For children in care, every foster carer becomes a unique chapter in their story. No matter the length, the time a child is in your care matters.

In the story of a child's life, you could be the chapter that they cherish.

The stories of these incredible young adults are a testament to the impact that foster carers can have on a child’s life.

In the story of a child's life, you could be the chapter that they cherish.

The stories of these incredible young adults are a testament to the impact that foster carers can have on a child’s life.

Explore how foster care can fit into your stage of life.

You can provide a lifeline to children in need by opening your heart and home during critical moments.

Explore how fostering can fit into your stage of life.

You can provide a lifeline to children in need by opening your heart and home during critical moments.

Step into the role of a foster carer and shape a child’s story for the better.

You likely already have what it takes to make a positive impact on a child’s life as a foster carer. We will be with you every step of the way, providing streamlined onboarding, in-language and on-call support, access to respite care, and financial assistance.

Get in touch

SSI operates the Multicultural Child and Family Program in parts of metropolitan Sydney as well as the Hunter region and Central Coast.

P: 0402 138 826 or 02 8713 9200

About SSI Multicultural Foster Care

For over 11 years, we have advocated that every child has a right to a safe, happy and permanent home connected to family and community. Our specialty is in connecting children from diverse backgrounds with foster carers who can help them maintain their connection to culture, religion, and language.

We are always looking for a diverse range of foster carers, but you don’t need to be from the same cultural background as a child in order to be a foster carer. What truly matters is your care and commitment to making a positive difference in a child’s life.

Frequently asked questions

Foster care offers children a home while their own family is unable to provide them with a safe or caring home environment. Children in foster care are aged from 0 to 18 years (up to 21 years in Victoria).

Depending on their circumstances, a child may be in foster care for a few days, a few weeks or for many years. Sometimes they may remain permanently in the care of foster carers.

In NSW, there are about 20,000 children not able to live with their birth parents. In Victoria, this number is over 11,000. Of these, about 15% are from a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) background.

Many children who need foster care have experienced trauma and various forms of abuse and can’t continue to live with their birth family. Wherever possible, the intention is to get children back living safely with their birth families.

Foster care is required when there are no extended family members or other suitable people to provide immediate or long term care.

When a child has been separated from their family because of ongoing child protection concerns, the Children’s Court and the relevant state government department are involved in making the decisions about children’s care.

There are four main types of foster care:

Respite foster care is regular periodic care. Children are looked after for short periods of time to provide birth parents or foster carers with a break, for example over school holidays or weekends.

Emergency or crisis foster care is required when there is immediate concern for a child’s safety. The duration can be from one night to a few weeks, or until another foster care arrangement is available.

Short-term foster care is required when there is a possibility that the situation that caused a child to be removed from their birth family may be resolved and they will be able to return (called restoration) or until another carer is found who is committed to providing long term care for the child.

Long-term foster care refers to caring for a child who is not expected to return to their birth family, and who will therefore need long-term care and be part of your family.

Becoming a foster carer

Foster carers care for children and young people who can’t live safely with their family. They provide safe and caring homes for these vulnerable children. By providing guidance, support and encouragement, foster carers make a real difference to the lives of children in care. Foster carers are trained, assessed and authorised to provide foster care.

Anyone can apply to become a foster carer as long as they meet the conditions set out below. Applicants must be:

– over 21 years of age
– an Australian citizen or permanent resident
– in good physical and emotional health without any medical condition that may affect their ability to care for a child or young person

SSI recognises that foster carers can have different personal and family circumstances. Foster carers can be:

– single, married or in a de facto relationship
– renting, buying or you may own your home
– working or not working
– a parent or someone who has a strong interest in helping children

Check your eligibility with our quiz!

The important qualities of a foster carer include:

– Empathy and good listening skills
– Perseverance and adaptability when things get tough
– Flexibility, patience and humour
– Ability to provide a safe, loving and caring home environment
– An ability to guide and discipline children without the use of physical punishment
– A willingness to work with other people in the child’s life such as birth parents and caseworkers
– A willingness to support the child to develop a sense of identity that includes their culture, language and religion, where appropriate.
– Be willing to learn and understand the impact of trauma on a child
– Able to balance your family’s needs, finances, interests and supports with the needs of the child
– Happy to participate in meetings and training

If you are interested in becoming a foster carer with SSI please contact us on:

For NSW –
P: 1800 960 976 or 02 8713 9200

For Victoria –
P: 1800 955 774

You can also check your eligibility and get in touch by completing our quiz.

Once you complete our quiz or get in touch, we will arrange a time to speak with you and your family about foster care, what it involves, and how to apply.

You will be provided with written information about our service and an application form. Once you have gathered the information you need and you decide you want to proceed, the next step will be to submit the application form to us.

You will then be invited to participate in an assessment process that will help us determine whether you can become a foster carer with our service.

The process includes:
– You and all adults in the household will have to complete a Health Check, Police Check, a Working with Children Check and referee checks
– Participating in training (Shared Lives) which covers nine topics and usually takes about 20 hours in total, either on weekends or evening sessions, in person or online
– A series of one on one interviews at your home to focus on your interests, skills, strengths and ability to take on the foster care role.

Being unique and different is part of what makes every one of us special. Every child and their birth family is different. Foster carers make a significant contribution by caring for vulnerable children in need of care and stability. Some children may show signs of stress, worry and uncertainty. Some may seem quiet, others may seem troublesome.

Child abuse causes trauma and harms how a child’s brain and emotions develop and how they learn to behave and react to situations.

Some children may show their anxiety, fear and confusion by not wanting to be a part of a family and withdrawing. Others may show behaviour that could be described as difficult or
challenging such as talking back, being angry, not listening, not eating or sleeping, not being able to regulate their emotions, throwing tantrums or running away.

Some children have never had routine in their lives and will need extra amounts of love, understanding and patience to help them learn new ways of behaving. The longer a child has not had stability and emotional support, the more time they will need to accept a different way of being cared for.

Maintaining or rebuilding relationships between children and their biological parents, siblings and family is continued when it is safe for the child. Many parents struggle to understand their roles when they are not caring for their children and this can raise many emotions including anger, loss, confusion and hope. How carers talk about children’s biological parents will influence how a child sees their family.

It is important that visits are safe, helpful and a good experience. It is also beneficial for children to see their carers have contact with their birth family. It gives them positive messages about people’s ability to communicate despite the situation.

Foster carers receive financial support in the form of a carer allowance. This allowance is to help cover the day-to-day costs of caring for a child and is not considered an income and therefore not taxable. The amount depends on the state or territory, and the age and needs of the child or young person in care.

You can find the latest guidelines on carer allowances for NSW here, and for Victoria here.

Foster care at SSI

SSI provides foster carers and casework support for all children, with a strong focus on children from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.

We deliver a specialist out-of-home care service that provides a culturally appropriate model of foster care for children and young people from CALD backgrounds aged 0-18 years in NSW, and up to 21 years in Victoria.

While SSI has a strong focus on recruiting foster carers from CALD backgrounds, we recruit carers from any background if they have a genuine desire to provide a safe and caring home for children.

We are staffed by bilingual case workers and managers with cross cultural and out-of-home care casework skills and knowledge. We also work closely with community organisations, community leaders, women’s groups, religious organisations and other relevant services, in the recruitment and support of foster carers.

At SSI, we believe children in care who are supported to learn about and maintain a connection to their culture, religion and language have better outcomes as they grow up than those who are not supported in this way. These connections help children to understand where they have come from and to develop their sense of belonging and identity.

Helping children stay connected with their ethnic background, language and religion can also help children maintain positive relationships with their birth parents, extended family and community. This is important should children be returned to parental care, and in staying connected into their adult years.

Our service provides:

– General foster care and case management to meet the full needs of the child
– Foster carers from the child’s cultural background where possible
– Bilingual and bicultural case managers
– Cultural care planning to promote connections with their culture, religion, language and community
– Access to counseling and support services for children from refugee backgrounds

SSI Multicultural Foster Care works closely with foster carers to ensure they have the support they need.

A range of support services are available including:

– Carer assessment processes conducted in either English or community languages
– Initial and ongoing training conducted in English or community languages
– A professional caseworker to support you and the child
– Bilingual caseworkers who understand the child’s culture
– Monthly visits and regular phone contact with your caseworker
– Access to 24-hour on-call phone support for crisis situations
– General and culturally specific support groups for example, Vietnamese carers group, Arabic carers group
– Respite foster care
– Financial support to meet the day-to-day cost of caring for the child through a foster care allowance (for NSW carers, please refer to the DCJ website, and for Victorian carers, please refer to the DFFH website)
– Referrals to a range of support services for you and the child

If you are interested in becoming a foster carer with SSI please contact us on:
For NSW –
P: 1800 960 976 or 02 8713 9200

For Victoria –
P: 1800 955 774