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There is no perfect formula for being a foster carer. The most important thing is to have a caring heart and open mind, to understand that children in care are likely to have complex family situations and have faced difficulties in their lives. If you have a desire to change the world – one child at a time – we’d love to work with you. We have an obligation to screen all people expressing interest in caring.

Some of the considerations we take into account when assessing your eligibility are detailed below.


Applicants need to be at least 25 and under 70 years of age.


Single applicants may apply.  Married or defacto couples must have been married and/or living together continuously for a minimum period of 2 years.


If the applicants have children, additional consideration will be given to ensure safety and minimise risk in respect to any child in the home. In most instances, this may result in the child placed by CatholicCare being the youngest child in the family with at least a 2 year age gap.


Applicants who have been having infertility treatment need to have finished their involvement with the fertility program before applying. Applicants need to be able to demonstrate a degree of acceptance of their infertility and an understanding of the impact of infertility upon each of them as individuals and as a couple.


The physical, emotional and mental health and wellbeing of an applicant will be assessed to see if they can undertake the task of fostering. Carers are expected to conform to guidelines designed to ensure that children are cared for in a healthy environment, including a smoke free household. Carers are expected not to smoke indoors and away from the child. Training in children’s first aid and a first aid training certificate is desirable for at least one adult member of the household.


CatholicCare requires applicants to be financially stable, sufficient to meet their own needs and commitments. Applicants seeking to provide care may be employed full or part-time if they are able to provide adequate time to the child in their care.


Applicants need to reside in NSW at the time of application to the agency and be either Australian citizens or hold a permanent residency visa.


Applicants need to have adequate, safe accommodation for a child. Children need a bedroom of their own. All safety requirements eg. a fenced pool need to be completed before placement. Applicants may be home owners or rent.


Background checks are conducted including a Working with Children Check and a National Police History Check for any residents in the home who are over the age of 18 years. A check will also be undertaken with the Department of Communities and Justice and applicants details entered onto the NSW Carers Register. Applicants will be required to provide details of their criminal history (if any) and this will be taken into account when considering their application. Applicants who have a record of violence, sexual assault or a crime against a child will not be able to continue with their application. Applicants need to be able to provide two references from people who are not related to them.


Applicants need to demonstrate a capacity to work with our team. The child’s Case Manager will maintain involvement with the child in care and the family through regular monthly home visits. The Case Workers will spend time with children on their own also.

If you have any further questions about fostering a child or young person, our team is here to help.

For more information:
P: (02) 9481 2600

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Tragically, there are many children and young people in our community who are unable to live with their families through no fault of their own.

CatholicCare is seeking families to provide essential support, care and stability for children and young people affected by family breakdown, to enable them to recover and thrive.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is foster care and what do foster carers do?

Foster carers play a pivotal role in supporting children who cannot live at home, providing for the child’s physical and emotional needs to heal from past traumas. While the initial goal is often for the foster child to return home, some children will need care until they turn 18 years or beyond. The ultimate goal of foster care is to give every child a chance to reach their full potential by ensuring they have access to education, healthcare and opportunities within a caring family environment.

Why do children end up in foster care?

Most of the children needing foster care have experienced adverse childhood experience including abuse or neglect. This can impact their behaviour, self-esteem, emotional and educational development. They may have difficulties trusting adults and forming relationships with others. By providing a safe environment and a secure attachment to carers, children who have suffered developmental trauma can begin to heal and explore the world around them.

What are the different types of foster care?

  • Emergency carers provide immediate crisis care ranging from a single night to a few weeks. The duration of the placement depends on whether the risk at home can be removed or, until the child is placed with an alternative short-term or family carer if the safety concern cannot be resolved.
  • A respite carer is an individual or family who for one weekend per month or more often cares for a child in our program. Respite care provides a child’s full-time foster family with a break, and a chance to recharge. It also provides the child with the opportunity to learn more about living with safe, caring adults.
  • Short-term care can be as little as a few weeks or up to 24 months while a child’s matter is before the courts to determine whether or not a child can go back home safely, or an alternative family can be found.
  • Long-term carers will care for a child until the young person reaches 18 years of age or is ready to move into independent living. CatholicCare expects that long-term carers commit to achieving this goal for the child in their care, with ongoing financial, emotional and practical support provided.
  • Kinship care is where children are placed with relatives or close family friends rather than with unrelated caregivers. Kinship care preserves valuable connections for the child by allowing them to stay within familiar family networks, which may reduce trauma and sustain a sense of stability during a difficult period.

Can I adopt a foster child?

CatholicCare offers foster care as a pathway to permanency, which may include options such as guardianship or open adoption. Adopting a foster child is a complex process that requires careful consideration and legal requirements, and our care team will support and guide you through the process.

How old are the children requiring foster care?

The need for foster care spans across a broad range of ages in NSW, catering to infants, children, and adolescents between 0 and17 years who need temporary or long-term nurturing and stability in their lives.

Are children and young people in foster care badly behaved?

Every child is unique, and so are the behaviours presented. These children and young people may have difficulties trusting adults and forming relationships with others. As a result, it can take some time for a child to settle into a foster family and their emotions may be expressed in ways that carers may find difficult. Some children adapt quickly to their new home, while others can take longer to form a secure connection with their carers. CatholicCare supports our foster carers in developing knowledge and tools for trauma informed parenting skills.

Will I get paid to be a foster carer?

An allowance is provided to cover the care and living costs of the foster child.

Do I have to pay for the child’s expenses myself?

On top of the carers allowance, additional funding can sometimes be accessed to engage services to meet children’s additional needs, such as orthodontic and optometrist costs.

What training is required?

We provide regular training for carers facilitated both in-house and externally to mentor carers through their journey and learn how to be great foster carers. As part of the application process, foster carers complete the trauma-informed program called Shared Lives, empowering them with a deeper understanding of fostering and an approach to building a safe and nurturing home environment for children who have suffered from trauma.

Can I have my own children in the house, and still foster?

If the applicants have children, additional consideration will be given to ensure safety and minimise risk in respect to any child in the home. In most instances, this may result in the child placed by CatholicCare being the youngest child in the family with at least a 2 year age gap.

Is it true I need to have a spare bedroom for the child or young person? Can they share a room with my other children?

The child or young person should have their own room to sleep in. There may be an exception for siblings who can share a room.

What disqualifies you from being a foster carer in Australia?

The process of becoming a foster carer involves probity checks, including a Nationally Coordinated History Check (police check), a Working with Children Check, a Community Services check and a medical check from your doctor.

Applicants need to be at least 25 and under 70 years of age. Married or defacto couples must have been married and/or living together continuously for a minimum period of 2 years.

How long does it take to be a foster carer?

It can take between 3-6 months to become an authorised foster carer in NSW.

What will the assessment interviews cover?

As part of the application process to become a foster carer, an assessor will conduct a series of discussions about your history, attitudes and connections, relationships and resilience, and child focused nurture. The assessor may conduct a conversation with family members, referees and support network.

I am already a foster carer with another service. Can I become a carer with CatholicCare?

Foster carers can only be authorised with one agency at a time. If you are already a foster carer with another agency, it may be possible to transfer to CatholicCare. Please contact us to discuss further.

Do children in foster care have contact with their birth family?

In most instances, yes. Children in foster care generally maintain a connection with their birth family, as this supports their sense of identity and belonging.

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Alice dreams of becoming a doctor

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In the news – the urgent need for foster carers

Up to 30 kids need emergency accommodation each night on the Northern Beaches, but many are forced to sleep in motel rooms due to a desperate shortage of foster carers. As many as 30 children — some aged just five — need emergency accommodation each night on the Northern Beaches.

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Olivia thrives in her foster care placement

Olivia was three years old when she came into our care. She was severely developmentally delayed, couldn’t walk and screamed all through the night.

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There are approximately 46,000 children in out of home care in Australia, which is an increase from 43,100 in 2017. Some of these children get placed with a relative, but a good percentage require foster care.

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