Foster Care is the temporary care of a child or young person up to 18 years of age, within a home based setting, by an accredited and trained foster carer. Children or young people can be in foster care for a few nights, weeks or years, depending on the circumstances. Children may be any age, culture or religious background, may have special needs or may need to be placed with their siblings.
Foster care provides safe and supportive homes for children and teenagers when they are unable to live with their own families. Where possible, it is the aim of foster care to reunite children with their own families.
In Victoria, foster care is provided by members of the community who are involved with a community service organisation, or CSO, which is commissioned by the Department of Human Services (DHS) to provide these services (a contact list of foster care providers is available on the DHS website). Some children who are unable to live with their parents may live with extended family members, in a situation refered to as kinship care.
Local adoption in Victoria is generally for infants through the Infant Adoption Program, however there are situations where other children are adopted through the Adoption and Permanent Care Program. These include children with special needs, stepchildren and children from other countries (Intercountry adoption).Children placed into permanent care come through child protection services. The Department of Human Services makes the decision for permanent care when a child is unable to return to their home, birth parents or other relatives. Permanent care orders are made by the Children's Court, where they grant custody and guardianship to a permanent family.
Adoption arrangements in Victoria can only be made by the Department of Human Services or an approved adoption agency. Adoption orders are made through the County Court.
The following organisations offer services including, counselling, support and advocacy, assessment, placement of children for adooption and post-placement supervision. Contact the organisations directly for detailed information about the services they offer.