Foster carers provide a nurturing home environment that promotes a sense of belonging and positive identity for children and young people. This includes:
• Care that is characterised by warmth, empathy and playfulness
• Relationships that build a child’s sense of love, attachment and security
• A focus on a child or young person’s life domains (explained below)
• An ability to respond appropriately to challenging behaviours, including with other members of your family or household
• An understanding of the impact of a child’s identity, culture and early experiences on their current and future needs
• An understanding that a young person may only be in foster care for a short time and that their best interests will always be the top priority.
Children and young people that have experienced abuse and neglect require nurturing care. This contributes to a child coming to terms with the adversity they have experienced and positive experiences in foster care. For many children, their first experiences of warmth, empathy and playfulness may occur in a foster care home.
Nurturing care builds a child’s sense of love, attachment and security. Foster carers are best supported to do this when they understand the effects of developmental trauma and attachment. Developmental trauma refers to the trauma endured during childhood when experiences of abuse and neglect have impacted on a child’s emotional, physical, psychological and cognitive development. Attachment refers to the bonding (emotional connection) between a child and their caregiver.
Foster carers receive initial and ongoing learning opportunities around developmental trauma and attachment to support them to provide nurturing care to young people. One of the models foster carers are trained in regarding nurturing care is the PACE model - Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy. More information is available in the ‘learning and development’ section on page 16.
Life domains refer to the significant aspects of a child’s life which support their development and opportunities to reach their full potential. The ‘care team’ is responsible for ensuring a child’s life domains are supported so that they are encouraged to have hopes and visions for their future. For more information about the role of the ‘care team’ refer to page 14 below in ‘working with others’.
Broadly a child’s life domains include:
• education and employment
• family and caregiver relationships
• connection with family and kin
• emotional and behavioural adjustment
• social and peer relationships
• life skills.
Care of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) children and young people
The Department for Child Protection and ac.care have a commitment to placing CALD children and young people with carers who share their cultural background.
The Children and Young Person (Safety) Act 2017 informs the practices of ac.care and the Department for Child Protection. The legislation requires that consideration is given to a child and young person’s culture, disability, language and religion and those in whose care children and young people are placed.
Where children are unable to be placed with culturally appropriate carers, Non-CALD carers are able to provide for a CALD child or young person. Carers are expected to support the child's ongoing connection with the child's CALD culture.