Become a foster carer
Foster care offers a child or young person (aged 0 to 17 years) a safe, nurturing home. Children are placed in foster care when there isn’t a family member or someone in their social network to care for them. They could stay in care for a few days, a week or much longer, depending on the needs of the child.
No matter what your background, relationship status, sexual orientation, or whether you’re working, studying or retired, Berry Street is looking for people just like you who can care for a child or young person in need.
Children in care have experienced trauma — they need a safe, nurturing home environment to help them recover. If you are over 21 and have a spare bedroom, we welcome your enquiry.
Victoria needs foster carers
In Victoria, the number of children who cannot live safely at home has risen every year over the last 10 years.
There are many reasons why children and young people come into care, but most have suffered abuse, neglect or trauma.
The goal is always to reunify children with their families eventually, if this is in the best interests of the child. If children are unable to return home, they will enter long-term or permanent care.
The facts about foster care in Victoria
Source: Child protection Australia 2019-20, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
*Including children in permanent care.
Anyone can apply to be a foster carer
If you're over 21 and can offer a child their own room in a safe and nurturing home environment, you can apply to be a foster carer.
We welcome enquiries from people from all backgrounds, cultures and experiences - married, single, or same-sex couples, with or without children, divorced or de facto, renting, working, studying or retired.
You don't need parenting experience, to give up your job or to have a child living with you all the time. We'll make sure the placements offered to you, suit your availability and give you the training and support you need.
Applying to be a foster carer
There are 3 steps to becoming a foster carer:
- Submit an enquiry and attend an information session.
- Submit your application and take part in pre-accreditation training
- Complete the assessment and induction training process.
Assessment and training can take 4 to 6 months.
Find out more about our recruitment and assessment process – go to Berry Street foster care services.
Types of foster care
When you apply to be a foster carer you'll be asked what kind of care you would like to provide:
- respite care – you give full-time carers, parents or guardians a regular break (1 or 2 weekends a month)
- emergency care – for children who are at risk and need a placement immediately (expect little notice)
- short-term care – few weeks to 6 months. These children are often reunited with their family
- long-term care – for children who need a longer stay (6+ months).
Support for foster carers
As a Berry Street foster carer, you'll receive all the support you need, including:
- a dedicated caseworker who phones and visits
- 24-hour support and practical help from experienced Berry Street staff (out of hours support relates to crisis and emergency situations)
- training and programs to develop your skills as a foster carer
- opportunities to talk to other carers
- help making your home meet the standards for foster care.
Financial support for carers
Foster carers are paid a care allowance every 2 weeks by the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing when a child is in your care. The amount you receive is based on the age of the child and the complexity of the child’s care needs. It is intended to contribute to a range of day-to-day expenses incurred in the provision of care.
It's not considered a payment, so isn't treated as income by Centrelink or for taxation purposes.
There may be other support available to you. For more information go to the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing website: Support for home-based carers in Victoria
The rewards of being a foster carer
As a foster carer, you change lives by making a child who has experienced trauma and abuse to feel safe. It won’t always be easy, but being a foster carer is one of the most meaningful and vital contributions you can make to our community.
Other ways you can get involved with Berry Street.