About foster care

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What is foster and kinship care

Foster and kinship care are forms of family-based care for children and young people who can’t live at home because they have experienced sexual, physical or emotional abuse or neglect, are at risk of experiencing one of these forms of harm, or cannot live at home for other reasons.

Care can be provided from a few nights to a few months or a few years (i.e. until the child turns 18). Carers may also provide emergency care for children or provide short breaks to other foster or kinship carers.

Foster and kinship care is not ‘one size fits all’. Children have different needs and require different types of care. Carers may have or develop special skills or preferences that will influence the type of care they provide.

Where possible, children are reunited with their families as soon as possible. Carers assist this process through a commitment to maintain ongoing relationships between children and their families.

What is foster care?

Foster carers are approved by Child Safety to provide care in their own homes for children and young people who they are not related to biologically. This care may be for short or long periods of time.

What is kinship care?

Kinship carers are approved by Child Safety to provide care in their own homes for a relative, family member, close friend, or a member of the child or young person's community.

A kinship carer is a person related to the child, or is considered to be part of the family or a close friend, including:

  • grandparent
  • aunt or uncle
  • other relative or close friend.

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, relative care may include another Aboriginal person or Torres Strait Islander who is a member of, or compatible with the child's community or language group.

When Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people need to live away from home for their own protection, Child Safety is committed to ensuring their cultural identity and relationship with their families and communities is maintained.

What are provisionally approved carers?

A person who has applied to become a foster or kinship carer may be provisionally approved as a carer, allowing them to care for a child or young person while their application to be a foster carer or kinship carer is decided. The application should be finalised within 90 days.

This type of approval is usually given to family members or other people already well known to a child or young person to enable an immediate placement to be made.

Provisional approval is valid for 60 days. It may be extended but cannot exceed 90 days.

Who needs care

Children coming into foster or kinship care have experienced harm or are at risk of harm and may:

  • be any age (up to 18)
  • be in sibling groups
  • come from anywhere in Queensland
  • come from any cultural or religious background
  • have special care needs.

More than a third of children and young people in care identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

Types of care

Family-based care

Family-based care is provided by foster and kinship carers. It is the most common type of care arrangement for children who cannot live at home. Depending on your circumstances and the commitment you may be able to make, there are different types of family-based care which may suit you, your family and your lifestyle.

  • Short-term care Short-term carers provide ongoing, day-to-day care to children and young people for up to two years while Child Safety works towards reunifying the child with their family. Carers also work closely with Child Safety to help maintain regular contact between the child and their family.
  • Long-term care Long-term care gives children a safe and stable home until they are 18 years of age when they can’t return to live with their family.
  • Short breaks Some carers provide short breaks for long-term foster and kinship carers. These carers choose when they provide care, such as on weekends or during holidays. Often, new carers start out as carers providing short breaks and become full-time foster carers after gaining some experience. Some carers who provide short-term or long-term care may also choose to provide periods of short breaks for other carers and children, if it suits their situation.
  • Emergency care Emergency carers provide short-term care at short notice for children who urgently need a place to stay. This may be needed when a child first comes into care while a suitable longer term carer is identified, or if they need a home while waiting to move to long-term care. Emergency carers often are skilled in helping children who have experienced abuse and trauma. Some short-term or long-term carers may choose to also be available for emergency care placements.
  • Intensive foster care Children may be placed with carers who provide intensive foster care if they require support for complex and special needs. Non-government intensive foster care services are responsible for recruiting, training, assessing and supporting carers to provide intensive foster care. Support for carers of children with complex and special needs includes additional training, financial support and respite.

Non family-based care

There are a range of non family-based care services that respond to the different levels of support needs of children and young people and provide stable, quality care including:

  • Residential care Residential care is primarily for young people aged 12 to 17 years with complex and extreme support needs. It may also accommodate sibling groups or other young people with moderate to high needs. Residential care services are provided by paid employees or contract workers to a child or young person in residential premises. These employees or workers may include rostered or live-in staff. Residential care usually involves small group care (up to six places), but may include individual care. Non-government residential care services are funded by Child Safety to provide an approved number of places for children or young people requiring out-of-home care placements.
  • Supported independent living Supported independent living may involve a small group or individual care and is usually for young people aged 15 to 17 years with moderate to high support needs, who are transitioning to independent living. Supported independent living services are provided by paid employees or contract workers to a child or young person in residential premises. These employees or workers do not usually live at the premises or provide overnight care but provide external support through regular visits. Non-government supported independent living services receive funding from Child Safety to provide an approved number of places for children or young people requiring out-of-home care placements.