There are lots of different pathways to foster care but you decide how much time you can share. Some foster families provide a home for a few days, while others become the “forever family” many children and young people hope for when they cannot return to their birth family. There is:

Emergency care – 12 hours onwards

Emergency carers provide a safe, supportive home for children and young people when there are immediate concerns for their safety and they must be moved quickly. Placements are arranged at short notice, often after-hours or on weekends, and can last from several hours to a few months.

Respite care – from 2 days to 3 weeks

If you can spare just one weekend a month, you can be a respite foster carer. Respite carers enable long-term foster carers to have a break from their caring role. Respite care is organised in advance and is for short periods such as weekends and holidays and continues for as long as you want.

Interim or restoration care – up to 12 months

Restoration and interim carers support vulnerable families by fostering children while their parents receive the help needed to ensure they can safely look after their child in the future. These carers also foster children while they’re waiting to go to an adoptive parent or into long-term foster care.

Guardianship – up to 18-years-old

Guardianship is a court order that allows a child or young person to be cared for by a relative or adult they know until the child turns 18. A guardianship order allows a child to maintain contact with their birth family while the child lives in the supportive home of their guardian. While the order ceases when the child is 18, the relationship with the guardian is expected to be lifelong.

Open adoption from care – life commitment

Open adoption preserves a child’s sense of who they are and from where they come. It allows a child to maintain a connection with their birth family where appropriate. There are thousands of children in care who could be adopted where it’s in the best interests of the child, is culturally acceptable and they cannot return home safely or permanently live with extended family or with a guardian. Open adoption from care is not generally considered appropriate for Aboriginal children. Find out more about the eligibility requirements of adopting a child from care.

Long-term foster care – 6 months onwards

Long-term foster carers are needed when a child or young person cannot return safely to their family; cannot be placed under a guardianship order; and when open adoption is not considered suitable because a child or young person prefers not to be adopted, or for cultural reasons.

Relative or kinship care

Relative or kinship care is when a child or young person lives with a relative or someone they already know. This could be short, medium or long-term.

Ready to make a difference in a child’s life?

Every type of care is important and whichever path you choose you will always make a difference.