Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services

Rewards and challenges

Becoming a foster or kinship carer is a very important decision that will affect your life and the lives of those around you. Experienced carers recognise the personal rewards that this role brings to them and their families, but also acknowledge the many challenges in caring for the children placed with them.

Rewards of being a carer

  • Helping to keep children and young people safe.
  • Helping children and young people to reach their full potential.
  • Helping parents to develop new ways of relating to their children.
  • Using your skills and life experiences for the benefit of others.
  • Enhancing your own parenting skills and knowledge.
  • Being a highly valued and contributing member of a caring team.
  • Expanding your social and personal contacts.

Challenges of being a carer

  • Managing your own children's feelings about sharing you, their home and their lives.
  • Responding to children's behaviours that you may not have previously experienced.
  • Being able to say goodbye to children when they leave to return to their families.
  • Feeling confident that children will be safe when they leave your care.
  • Finding space in your life for yourself when so many demands will be made on your time and energy.
  • Being able to persevere when the observable changes may be small or nonexistent.
  • Sharing the decision making for the children placed with you.

What carers say

Experienced carers say the rewards outweigh the challenges and are most often found in the day-to-day moments that they experience through sharing their lives with children.

When we realised there was a need for fostering, the idea appealed to our hearts. As a family we saw a chance to help the world and to provide opportunities to young children who may not otherwise receive them.

While not perfect parents, we thought we'd give it a go. As caregivers we have experienced a lot of joy and satisfaction in being able to provide a good home and stable environment for children.

Our own children have had to adjust to the changes within the family unit, which at times has brought out both the best and worst in them. Overall however it has been a rewarding and loving experience for our children as well as the foster children.

It is an unpredictable vocation and you sometimes think you just can't do enough to help, but there is a team of people (both from the Department of Child Safety and other carers) behind the scenes providing support.

Alan and Heather, foster carers

I have been a foster carer for almost a year. In that time I have been privileged to meet some wonderful children. I provide support and emergency care for children who are in long-term care and I work with their foster family, their family, service providers and Child Safety staff in a partnership of caring.

I believe in the saying that it takes a community to raise a child and I am happy to contribute in any way that I can. At the moment, that takes the form of weekends whenever possible and emergency care whenever needed.

The arrangement is flexible and I do what I can when I can. As a full-time worker and part-time student, support and emergency foster care enables me to have some work-life balance and contribute to the community in a practical and nurturing way

Margot, support carer

I have been a kinship carer for just over a year now. It was not something that I planned for, much less expected! Caring for my grandson has been a challenge, but loving him comes naturally.

Our lives have changed so much to accommodate this little person, but retrospectively I know we have done the right thing by choosing to raise him. I encourage all relatives, whether they are an uncle, aunt, grandparent or significant person in a child's life to consider the impact of a child being placed in care, and what the child is feeling.

If you can love and support this little person and give them the best chance at life, then go for it. You also have to manage your relationship with the parents and the department - no easy task, but one that will seem insignificant when you can look back and know that you were there for someone you loved.

Susie, kinship carer