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Out-of-home care refers to temporary, medium, or long-term living arrangements for children and young people who cannot live safely in their family homes.

These alternative living arrangements may come via a court order following child protection intervention or, in some cases, through a voluntary out-of-home care arrangement.

The different types of out-of-home care include:

Foster care: A child is cared for by a foster carer who has been trained and accredited to look after children.

Kinship care: A child is cared for by a relative or family friend, allowing them to remain within their family or local network.

Residential care: A young person is cared for in a group home staffed by carers. Berry Street has implemented an evidence-based model of care called the Teaching Family Model in all therapeutic residential care houses.

Permanent care: A child is cared for by a permanent carer (including foster or kinship carers) where it is intended that the child will remain in their care until age 18 or beyond before a Permanent Care Order is made by the Children's Court.

What are the different types of foster care?

Our foster care team is often asked about the different types of foster care, so let's break down the ways you can foster a child with Berry Street.

1. Respite care

Respite carers provide full-time foster and kinship carers with the opportunity to take a break by caring for the child in their care. This is typically for one or two weekends a month, during school holidays, or as required.

2. Emergency care

Emergency care is immediate care due to significant safety or welfare concerns for a child or young person. Given the immediate risks, this type of care is often arranged with short notice and may also occur overnight or on weekends. Often, children and young people only remain with an emergency carer for a short time until more suitable arrangements can be made.

3. Short-term foster care

Short-term care is limited in time; it can range from overnight up to about six months. Children and young people requiring short-term care are often reunified with their parents or may be placed with extended family (kinship care) at the end of the foster care arrangement.

4. Long-term foster care

Long-term foster care is required when a child or young person cannot safely return home for some time (more than six months). Unless specified by the Children’s Court, children in long-term care maintain contact with their families.

Permanent care isn’t foster care

Foster care is intended to be temporary, with a focus on reuniting children with their birth parents. For some children, this isn’t possible.

In some cases, the court will decide it is not in the child or young person’s best interests to consider reunification and will issue a permanent care order. In these instances, the child would have spent time in foster care when reunification was being considered before eventually being placed with a permanent care family.

Permanent care and foster care both have separate training and accreditation programs. Berry Street is not a permanent care agency; however, many carers have children on permanent care orders. These are often children they've fostered before a permanent care order was issued, and the carer sought dual registration.

If someone wishes to be a permanent carer and is seeking experience via foster care, we usually ask for a commitment of 2-3 years to foster care.

Become a foster carer and support a local child

Childhood is a journey—partner with Berry Street to support a child or young person on theirs.

As a Berry Street foster carer, you’ll be a part of a team that's committed to supporting children and young people who cannot live safely at home. By providing a safe and nurturing place to live – you'll be there for them at a crucial moment in their life.

Berry Street’s expert team is here to support you along the way, so, feel free to reach out at any time! Call 1800 816 037 or email