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Out-of-home care

Foster care services

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Berry Street has been supporting Victorian children and families for over 140 years.

That includes giving children who cannot live with their own families the opportunity to live within a safe and nurturing home environment.

As a foster care agency in Victoria we:

  • recruit, train, assess and register people as suitable foster carers
  • place children with Berry Street foster carers
  • value and support our foster carers so they are equipped to care for children in their home
  • manage contact between child and biological parents.

Recruiting our foster carers

We are an inclusive organisation and we welcome carers from all backgrounds, cultures and experiences. Find out how to become a foster carer.

All prospective carers go through a process of assessment, training and registration. We want to make sure that they are up to the task and that their household and house is a suitable place for a vulnerable child to live.

All applicants and adults in the household complete a range of background safety checks including a home review, police and Working with Children checks.

Prospective carers receive comprehensive training to prepare for the experience of being a foster carer.

We conduct a range of assessment activities before the foster carers can be accredited by the foster care panel. Once accredited, carers then have access to ongoing training to ensure they are providing the best possible care.

Placing children in caring homes

Berry Street receives foster care referrals for children who need a safe place to live.

There are 2 types of referrals:

  • voluntary (from families)
  • statutory (from the Department of Health and Human Services).

When children are matched to a foster carer household, the carers can decide whether to accept the placement or not.

Supporting our carers

We understand the importance of providing our carers with the right practical help and professional support.

Each carer can access:

  • a 24/7 hour on-call service for emergency situations
  • their dedicated case manager who stays in touch via regular phone calls and home visits
  • education and training in therapeutic care, behavioural management and other relevant topics, such as drug and alcohol awareness
  • social activities and events to connect with other carers and children
  • other carers in their local area to talk to as part of our peer mentoring program
  • access to the Carer Information and Support Service run by the Foster Care Association of Victoria.

Carers are invited to attend regular care team meetings, where everyone involved in a child’s life discuss the child’s needs and how to meet them.

Coordinating a child’s contact with their biological family

The aim of foster care is to help children return to their biological family, provided this is in the best interests of the child.

Part of our role is to manage any contact between the foster carer and the child’s biological parents.

Our case managers develop a relationship with the biological family and introduce them to their child’s carer if appropriate.

Many Berry Street long-term carers have developed very positive relationships with the biological families of children in their care, which is hugely beneficial for all involved, especially the children.

Learn more about becoming a foster carer with Berry Street.