Specialised Foster Care FAQs 

Get answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about becoming a specialised foster carer.

Yes. All TFCO carers receive a tax-free pro-rata carer allowance of $75,000 per year in VIC and QLD, and $80,000 per year in NSW. This equates to receiving $6,667 a month in NSW and $6,250 per month in VIC and QLD. 

This carer allowance is to help with the costs associated with supporting a child or young person in your care, like food, clothes and activities. A carer allowance is different from paid employment, where you get superannuation, sick leave, etc.; however, the carer allowance is tax-free, meaning you would receive up to an additional $30,000 a year if you would compare it to a job where you pay tax. There may also be Centrelink benefits you are entitled to as a carer, which we will discuss with you as they depend on your circumstances. 

While being a TFCO carer is a full-time commitment, you can continue to work in a full or part-time capacity until you have a child placed in your care. Respite TFCO carers (eg. caring one weekend a month) receive the same pro-rata carer allowance as full-time TFCO carers but you would get paid for the days when they are caring for a child or young person.

If you wish to become a full-time carer, preferably, the primary carer should be home full-time.

Yes, absolutely. As long as you have strong, established support systems in place to assist you both emotionally and practically.

Yes. It is essential for children and young people in the TFCO program to have their own private and safe space, where they can settle in, feel it is their own and enable them to thrive, especially where there is a background of trauma. Sharing rooms is prohibited within the program and ensures all children in the carer’s household have their own room to retreat to.

Generally, the process from enquiry to welcoming your first child or young person into your care is 5-8 months. This includes attending a Q&A session, interviews, training, completing the necessary paperwork like a police check, working with children checks/blue card application and other safety measures like a Home and environment check and reference checks. The last step of the process involves your application being presented to a foster carer panel responsible for the accreditation and approval of new carers based on you meeting the required relevant standards for foster carers and meeting competencies required in the carer assessment. The duration of the process mainly depends on how quickly you can get the training and paperwork done and how available you are for home visits etc. 

As much as this process is about safeguarding children, it is also about making sure now is the right time to start fostering. We take time to get to know you and work with you to find out what behaviours you are and are not comfortable with to ensure a child or young person will be a good fit for your household. 

The placement generally lasts somewhere between six to 12 months, as this is where the research shows the TFCO therapeutic response to be the most effective for children, as well as sustainable for the carer households.

• Weekly TFCO carer meetings with the support of peers (other TFCO carer households) and the program supervisor.
• Daily morning calls from the TFCO team to record the child’s behaviours and timely contact from the program supervisor if needed.
• On-call support for TFCO carers available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
• Respite care for all children and young people in the program by TFCO-trained respite carers once a month.
• Full initial TFCO training provided.
• Ongoing training, coaching and development tailored to each family’s needs.

The age range of children and young people in the TFCO program differ by state. In QLD it is 7-11 years and in NSW and VIC it is 7-17 years. You can provide a gender preference and/or age preference within the age range.

TFCO placements are not long-term or permanent care options. The aim of TFCO is to reunify children and young people with family or kin. In Victoria and Queensland we are looking for long-term after carers who are keen to care for kids who have graduated from the program but don’t have family to go to afterwards.

Where applicants are on an IVF program, pregnant or already exploring permanent care options or adoptions, it is suggested they see those plans through before exploring a TFCO application.

Yes. Whilst it may be one member of the household driving the application, it is a requirement that both partners complete training and assessment. Children in the home are also included in parts of the assessment. It is also encouraged that other household members especially those over the age of 18 attend training.

Everyone’s circumstances are different, give our recruitment team a call on 1800 954 550 or email tfco@ozchild.org.au, we’d love to help!

Generally speaking it is OK to foster when you are already caring for your own child(ren), especially if the children are older. The TFCO program can offer your child(ren) a wonderful opportunity to learn valuable life skills and really broaden their views regarding vulnerable children. However, the program is not ideal for households where your child(ren) is/are aged between 0-5, as small children require lots of attention, energy and supervision which could be difficult to manage with the therapeutic care of a TFCO child or young person who could be displaying challenging behaviours.

Due to the high needs the kids in the specialised foster care program have, the program does not allow for you to care for other foster kids as this can sometimes be disruptive to the stability of your current placement. The exception of this program rule, is when you have become the permanent carer of the foster child that is already in your care.

What support do you receive as a specialised foster carer?
What is it like when a child graduates from the program?
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OzChild acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we live and work. We acknowledge their cultures are living ones, which relate to their ongoing connection to all things living and non-living on land, sea and sky.

We pay our respect to Elders past and present.

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