Childhood is a journey, but not every child starts in the same place. Along the way, there are many moments that shape us. There are people who guide us. And there are places where we feel our safest.
As a Berry Street foster carer, you’ll be a part of a team that is committed to supporting children and young people on their journey. And by providing them with a safe and nurturing place to live – you'll be there for them at a crucial moment in their life.
Looking to start your foster care journey?
First, let's find out if you live within our service area! Please enter your postcode or suburb below.
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Thank you for your interest in becoming a foster carer. Please contact Fostering Connections to find a foster care agency that covers your area.
How to become a foster carer
Partner with Berry Street to provide vital care for children and young people in need. Our comprehensive foster care service offers various types of care, ensuring a nurturing environment for every child.
At Berry Street, our foster care approach centres around prioritising children who cannot live with their families. As a Berry Street foster carer, you'll support and empower children and young people who have experienced trauma, guiding them on a journey of growth, development, and safety.
If you’re interested in providing care for an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander child or young person, we encourage you to register with your local Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCO). Visit our FAQs to learn more.
I wasn't sure if I could be a foster carer. I'm single. I don't own a house. I rent. I work full-time. I didn't know if it was possible for somebody like me to be a carer...I feel like I had a lot of support from Berry Street in preparing me to become a carer. They were really supportive throughout the whole process.
What support do foster carers receive?
You’ll be supported by Berry Street’s expert team to find a type of foster care that suits you and your family. Whether it’s long-term, just for a short time, or on an occasional basis, the care and support you provide as a Berry Street foster carer will connect you to something bigger than yourself.
I came into care when I was three and my younger brother was two – and we’ve been here for 18 years now. So, it’s really changed our life. Our foster parents have given us hope and the love that we might not have gotten where we were before. Just having love and support around me makes me feel very good about myself.
Hear from Berry Street foster carers
Frequently asked questions
Home-based carers (foster and kinship carers) in Victoria receive financial support in the form of a fortnightly caregiver reimbursement, paid by the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing.
The reimbursement is not considered to be a payment and, as such, is not treated as income by Centrelink or for taxation purposes. Therefore, the fortnightly allowance is tax-free.
The fortnightly reimbursement rate is based on the age of the child and the complexity of the child’s care needs and does not cover the full cost of raising a child, rather it is seen as a contribution towards these costs.
In addition to the fortnightly reimbursement, you will also receive a quarterly payment for educational and medical expenses.
You can find more detailed information on reimbursement rates on the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing website.
Foster care is the temporary care of a child or young person (up to 18 years) within a safe and nurturing home environment during a time when they can't live safely at home. It can be for a few days, a few weeks, one weekend a month or for much longer.
Wherever possible, the goal of foster care is to reunify children with their birth families, providing this is in the best interests of the child. Where it is in the best interests of the child, the plan will be to support the birth family so that the child can be safely returned home. If the child isn’t able to return to their birth family, then placement with extended family or community members is the goal.
Foster care is required when there isn’t an extended family member or members of a child’s social network available to provide a home (known as kinship care).
Berry Street receives voluntary and statutory foster care referrals for children aged from 0 to 17 years.
Voluntary foster care referrals are initiated by the child’s biological family. The family may be under significant stress and needing time to work towards goals that will enable them to resume full-time care of their children.
Statutory referrals are initiated by the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing. The court system will determine if children should be removed from the care of their biological family. These children may have suffered various forms of abuse and require protection.
Across Australia, 1 in 32* children need child protection services – that's one in every classroom. In Victoria, the number of children in out-of-home care has risen every year over the last 10 years. Right now, over 12,000 Victorian children cannot live safely at home and are in out-of-home care (foster, kinship and residential care).
*Child protection Australia 2020-21, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
There are four different types of foster care, including:
- respite care – you give full-time carers, parents or guardians a regular break (1 or 2 weekends a month)
- emergency care – you care for children who are at risk and need a placement immediately
- short-term care – you care for children from a few weeks up to 6 months. These children are often reunited with their family
- long-term care – you care for children who need a longer stay (from 6+ months).
Our experienced staff will work with you to determine which foster care placement will suit you.
At Berry Street, we welcome carers from all backgrounds, cultures and experiences.
Many of our carers balance foster care with full-time work. Some own their homes, while others rent. You might already be a parent or perhaps your children have grown up and left home. You don't need to have children yourself to become a foster carer, and many child-free individuals choose to foster with Berry Street. Some carers are couples, some are single, and some provide foster care in a multigenerational household.
To be eligible to be a foster carer in Victoria, you must:
- be able to offer a safe, nurturing home environment for a child or young person
- be a minimum of 21 years of age
- have a spare bedroom
- be an Australian citizen or permanent resident (however, non-permanent residents can become foster carers for emergency and respite placements)
- be willing to complete and maintain relevant background compliance checks including a police check and a Working with Children Check
- be willing to work as part of a team in the best interests of the child or young person
- have an interest in and commit to ongoing training and development to better support children and young people in care
Berry Street foster carers are a member of a team that is committed to supporting the child or young person in their care.
Berry Street foster carers become part of our Carer Village and have the expert support of Berry Street staff, volunteers and the wider carer community.
Support is tailored to the carer based on their needs and the type of care they provide and includes:
- ongoing support from a designated foster care case worker
- carer supervision
- access to specialist training
- financial support in the form of a care allowance
- After-hours on-call support from a designated Berry Street service
- regular foster carer gatherings to promote peer support
- access to the Foster Care Association of Victoria & Carers Assistance program.
Berry Street is committed to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children being culturally supported and we encourage prospective carers who are interested in providing care for Aboriginal children and young people to consider caring with your local Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCO) because we know how vital Culture is to a child or young persons’ development.
A potential carer doesn’t have to identify as Aboriginal to receive carer support from an ACCO when caring for an Aboriginal child or young person. Caring for an Aboriginal child with the support of an ACCO will provide better outcomes including greater health, wellbeing, and cultural engagement. Everyone can support self-determination. Reconciliation takes all of us.
Any contact you have with the child’s biological parents will be carefully coordinated and managed by Berry Street. The nature of the contact will depend on the circumstances surrounding the child going into care.
Your Berry Street case manager will develop a relationship with the biological family before you have any contact with the family.
Your initial contact with the biological family might be at the regular meetings held to discuss the child’s care (these meetings are not held in your home).
Berry Street will coordinate any visits the child has with his/her biological family.
Many Berry Street long-term carers have developed very positive relationships with the biological families of children in their care and this is hugely beneficial for all involved, especially the children.
More information and foster care resources
Check out these helpful resources to learn more about fostering with Berry Street.
- Watch: Hear from Jess, care leaver, about her experience in foster care (9 mins)
- Watch: Learn more about our work through our Berry Street Story (5 mins)
- Read: Download our Foster Carer Information Pack
- Watch: Foster Carer Information Session (20 mins)
- Read: Hear from some of our Berry Street foster carers