Foster care is a planned and time limited alternative living arrangement for children whose parents are unable to care for them at home for a period of time.
Placement with relatives is considered as a first option. Where this is not possible, a foster family unrelated to the child, but especially suited to the child’s needs and circumstances, may be selected.
In some circumstances a group home may be the most suitable option.
Children are in care for varying lengths of time. The usual plan is for the child to return home. If it is not possible for the children to return home, children are then considered as a longer term placement.
A goal of all placements is for contact and/or knowledge to be maintained between the child and his/her family. If on-going contact is not possible, children still need knowledge about their family to maintain their self-esteem, sense of belonging and sense of continuity.
The general foster care program is organised by the Department of Communities that places children through its District Offices.
In addition, non-government agencies have their own community/kinship care or residential care programs in liaison with Department of Communities.