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Types of foster care

What are the different kinds of foster care?

No two children, young people, or families are the same. When it comes to foster care, we offer a range of placement types to meet the unique needs of children who require a home to support their varied circumstances.

All types of care matter!

A child can be placed in care for a night, a week, several months or until they are ready to become an independent adult. The length of time a child stays with a carer is determined individually, according to their best interests.

Carers are encouraged to choose the type of care that fits in with their life and family. CatholicCare also has a comprehensive process for endeavouring to find the best match for children with a family, and you are an active participant in that journey.

Immediate or crisis care

Emergency placements are for children who need an urgent place to stay because there are concerns for their immediate safety. These placements can occur after-hours and on weekends. Emergency carers need to be able to provide care for very young children at short notice, and typically only for a short period of time.

Respite Care

From time-to-time parents and carers need a break from their caring role. Respite care is for short periods, such as school holidays, weekends, or during the week.

Short to Medium term/Restoration

This can last anywhere from a few months to two years. These placements have a strong focus on reunifying children and young people with their families.


There are different ways a child can have a safe, caring, and permanent home. These are called permanency pathways and can involve placements longer than six months. If a child cannot return to their family on a restoration pathway, there are a range of other permanent placements to help children feel safe and supported.

These pathways include:

  • Long Term Care: Where children and young people live in a long-term placement with foster carers for more than two years.
  • Guardianship: To meet the long-term needs of a child in care, a relative, kinship carer or foster carer may apply to become a guardian through an application to the Children’s Court. If approved, the foster carer/s has the legal responsibility of caring for the child or young person until they reach adulthood.
  • Open Adoption: This is for children in foster care who cannot safely return to their birth family. Through an application to the Children’s Court, the child becomes a legal member of a family providing a safe and loving home for life.
  • Relative or Kinship Care: This is where a child or young person lives with a relative or someone they know through family and/or community connection.

It is important to note that there must be a commitment and ongoing focus on connecting and maintaining strong family and sibling relationships throughout all pathways.

Next steps

To learn more about becoming a foster carer, please get in touch with us on 1300 590 898, or register your interest below. A member of our team will be in contact and send you an information pack.

We’d love you to attend one of our obligation-free information sessions to have all of your questions answered.

Our face-to-face sessions have resumed. However, the team is still running one-on-one zoom information sessions for those unable or uncomfortable to attend in person. Register your interest below.