The assessment process is about the Department of Children and Families (DCF) getting to know you and your family to determine if you are suitable to care for children and young people. Assessments are a detailed process where you and/or your family need to provide information about yourselves, your background and personal relationships and attitudes to caring, among other things. The assessment is a time to discuss your motivation to become a carer; to consider the impact upon you of caring; and to reflect upon your ability to cope with the associated pressures for you and your family. There is no such thing as the ‘perfect carer’, and DCF works with you to identify the personal qualities you have to offer children and young people.
Approval and Authorisation
Information collected during the assessment process is used to determine whether you are suitable to be a carer. Unsuccessful applicants receive a letter explaining the reasons why they were not approved. Approved carers receive a letter stating that their application has been successful.
If your application is successful, you become an Authorised Carer and are registered for up to 12 months.
Types of Approval
Interim approval can be granted in certain circumstances and is only valid for a period of 12 weeks.
Kinship Carers are individuals or families who are authorised to care for children who are relatives or members of a child’s kinship group.
Foster Carers are individuals, couples or families who are authorised to care for a general range of care placements. They do not need a separate approval for each child.
Kinship and Foster Carers may choose to provide specific types of care:
Emergency Care: Emergency placements are for children who need an urgent placement because there are concerns for their immediate safety. These placements occur during office hours but also after hours and on weekends. Due to the urgency of these placements there is minimal notice. Usually the child will have an alternative placement organised within 48 hours. Emergency carers need to be able to provide care for very young children at short notice.
Respite Care: It is recognised that, like parents, carers need a break from their caring role from time to time. Carers can provide respite care for children placed with other carers for short periods of time, e.g. school holidays, weekends or for short periods during the week. Respite Care is usually planned care and can be scheduled in advance.
Short to medium-term Care: These are placements usually up to three to six months in duration. Short to medium-term placements have a strong focus upon reunifying the child with their birth parents or extended family.
Long-term Care: These placements are for six months’ duration or longer. Long-term placements can become more permanent placements if all options to reunify the child with their family have been unsuccessful.