Support for Foster Carers

Sharing the care journey with ac.care

ac.care Murraylands team Carers Week 2020 thank you
ac.care Riverland team Carers Week 2020 thank you CROPPED LANDSCAPE MEDIUM RESOLUTION

Foster carers benefit from support and guidance to provide the best possible care for vulnerable young people within a safe and stable home.

ac.care provides support to foster carers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in a comprehensive and adaptive way to match the needs of carers and young people. Our team provides support for every step of the foster care journey beginning with ac.care helping prospective foster carers in their consideration, this progresses to working through the application and assessment steps through to become a registered carer. Our tailored support for a registered foster care household includes:

• Regular home visits and contact from an assigned ac.care placement support worker
• Information about how to communicate and advocate across the care team, such as with schools, government departments and other agencies
• Opportunities to connect with the local carer community and regular social events
• Education with comprehensive learning and development opportunities
• Consultation with a qualified and experienced psychologist
• Access to financial support through the Department for Child Protection.

Individual support

All carers are allocated an ac.care placement support worker (PSW) who will become their key contact person within ac.care. They are available over the phone or via email and will visit your home every 8 weeks as a minimum and more frequently where required. For example, when a young person is first placed within your home, your placement support worker will be available to visit more frequently depending on your support needs.

Foster carers develop strong and open relationships with their placement support workers, who share the journey every step of the way. Your placement support worker will help you to understand and navigate the complexities of foster care and relationships. They will communicate with you about:

• any potential placements of children and young people
• the day to day care for young people placed in your care
• processes and procedures, standards of care and caregiver expectations
• training requirements and carer learning and development opportunities
• annual renewal of carer registration through annual reviews of the carer household
• any concerns that may arise within the care team

Care Team

Foster carers, the Department for Child Protection and ac.care as the support agency form part of a ‘care team’ for children and young people who are under guardianship of the Chief Executive of the Department for Child Protection. The Chief Executive of the Department for Child Protection is the legal guardian of children in foster care.
Caring for a young person in foster care involves working collaboratively with a team of people who share the responsibility of their care and development. Foster carers are essential members of the care team making day to day decisions about a child in their care and are supported to participate in decision making around a child’s health, safety, welfare and wellbeing.
This group of people is often referred to as the ‘care team’ and involves the:

• Child or young person
• Department for Child Protection case manager
• Foster carer(s)
• ac.care Placement Support Worker.

It may also involve the birth family, other family members and relevant professionals in the young person’s life, such as teachers, psychologists, paediatricians or other medical professionals.

Working with others

Foster carers have a capacity to work with others in order to meet the life domains and care needs of a child. This will involve a willingness and ability to communicate with and participate in the ‘care team’ for planning and reviewing of the child’s care and opportunities for development. Foster carers demonstrate:

• good interpersonal and clear communication skills
• recognise that they are one part of a team caring for the child
• an ability to communicate openly and cooperatively with all people in the child’s life to prioritise the best outcomes for the child.

Financial support

ac.care does not provide direct, ongoing financial support to foster carers, however the Department for Child Protection provides assistance to foster carers through the ‘Carer Support Payment’ to help meet the costs of caring for a child.

All school students in foster care are eligible for the South Australian School Card. It offers financial assistance with educational expenses for students attending government and non-government schools. Foster carers may also be eligible to receive additional payments from the government, such as family tax benefit, the parenting payment and payments to help families.

Refer to information on the Department for Child Protection website to find out more about carer payments, including additional payment for children with special needs and incidental payments.

Learning and Development

The knowledge and skills of foster carers contribute to providing care in a safe and secure environment and can positively influence a child’s experience. ac.care works alongside foster carers to encourage and support their ongoing commitment to learning and development. This includes supporting carers to develop nurturing, trauma-informed and responsive care.

Recognising current skills and knowledge, we work with foster carers to develop individualised plans for engagement in a tailored range of learning and development opportunities. These include mandatory training through to specific areas of learning to support carers both personally and as caregivers. Opportunities for learning are flexible, occurring through face to face and online platforms and extend beyond business hours to evenings and flexible correspondence study where required.

Mandatory training

There are training areas which are mandatory requirements during the application and assessment process to become a foster carer, referred to as ‘pre-approval training’. This includes a two-day foundational foster care orientation, along with training in safe care of infants, mandatory reporting and first aid. Foster carers are required to update their knowledge and skills in these mandatory training areas on an ongoing basis to maintain registration. For more detail on the mandatory training requirements refer to page 25.

Further learning

Outside of the mandatory training requirements, foster carers are encouraged to engage in further learning opportunities to develop their knowledge and skills. For example, during the foster care assessment process, you and your assessment worker will identify specific areas where training can support the start of your fostering journey. Additionally, when a young person is placed with a foster carer, training may be identified for a foster carer to best meet the child’s specific care needs. Some of the further learning areas include:

• Attachment and bonding
• Autism and other conditions
• Childhood development
• Cultural awareness, including Aboriginal and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD)
• Developmental trauma and trauma-based behaviour
• PACE model of care: Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy
• Positive parenting, responsive care and interventions.

If you are interested in finding out more about the further learning opportunities, please contact us and we can provide additional information.

Care consultation

ac.care supports foster carers through clinical consultation opportunities with Dr Ivan Raymond of the Life Buoyancy Institute Foundation (LBI Foundation). Dr Raymond is a clinical psychologist with over 20 years of experience in working with people in out of home care (OOHC). He is a leading expert in intentional practice, wellbeing, resilience and trauma. Dr Raymond facilitates carer training groups, webinars and one-on-one consultation with carers.

Carer Community

ac.care Limestone Coast team Carers Week 2020 thank you

The current carer community ac.care support includes over 180 households, caring for close to 400 children, who are located across a large geographical area in the Limestone Coast, Riverland, Murray Mallee, Fleurieu Peninsula and Adelaide Hills.

ac.care recognises there are many benefits to foster carers connecting with their local carer community, including peer support and understanding. To assist with these connections, ac.care schedules regular social events, such as morning teas and annual celebrations, including Foster Carers Week in September and festive season events, which involve the whole foster care household.

Financial Support

ac.care does not provide direct, ongoing financial support to foster carers, however the Department for Child Protection provides assistance to foster carers through the ‘Carer Support Payment’ to help meet the costs of caring for a child.

Visit the Department for Child Protection (DCP) website to read more about carer payments and download the Carer Support Payments handbook for specific amounts.