Carers make a huge difference in the lives of children and young people who are in need of love, understanding and protection. The good work that carers do is supported by Family and Community Services (FACS) and by a number of non-government agencies.
As a carer, you have rights as well as responsibilities. For example, you can expect:
- your caseworker and other professionals to give you the support and information you need to help you better care for the child or young person placed with you
- to be given the information you need about a child or young person, including medical details where appropriate, to enable you to make an informed decision about whether you can accept a placement and provide effective care
- to have your opinions and your experience with the child or young person properly considered in decision-making processes
- to make certain day-to-day decisions about their care
- to be kept informed about decisions your agency makes, and any other information, that may have an impact on the care of the child or young person.
Code of Conduct
FACS has developed The Code of Conduct for Authorised Foster, Relative and Kinship Carers to help foster stable and positive relationships between the child or young person, their carer and the designated agency. The Code of Conduct sets out what is generally expected of carers as well as specific expectations in relation to:
- the care environment
- relationships with family and significant others
- identity, emotional and social development needs
- wellbeing, health and educational needs
- leaving care transition.
All carers are expected to sign the Code of Conduct before a placement begins.
Day-to-day carer responsibilities
Your general day-to-day responsibilities are to provide a caring environment and experiences that meet the child or young person’s physical and emotional needs. This includes keeping their identity, assisting them to observe their religion if they have one and maintaining links with their cultural identity.
You’re also responsible for making day-to-day decisions for the child or young person when they come up. If you’re unsure about what decisions you can make, talk to your caseworker or checkout the online guide.
Other important responsibilities include:
- attending meetings when required
- contributing to the development of the child or young person’s Case Plan
- doing your bit to help achieve the goals identified in the Case Plan and in Case Plan reviews
- ensuring the child or young person is familiar with their rights under the Charter of Rights
- supporting them to exercise these rights
- keeping records if the child or young person is injured or causes property damage or injury to others while in your home
- arranging for them to attend school and making every effort to get them to school each day and on time
- supporting them to maintain connections to family and kin
- arranging and attending medical and dental appointments where appropriate
- maintaining health records and keeping school records, photos, awards and other mementoes of the child or young person’s progress during your placement
- gathering material for the child’s My Life Story Book and helping them to keep it up to date.
In general, keep your caseworker informed about the child or young person’s progress, their behaviour and any disclosures of abuse. If there is a critical event, for example, if the child has a serious injury or illness or has gone missing, tell your caseworker or call the 24-hour Child Protection Helpline on 132 111.
To make sure you get the support you need, ask your caseworker about any seminars or courses that may assist you and any training sessions offered. Also talk to them if you’re having difficulty with the child’s behaviour or with other agencies involved with the child, such as their school or health services.
Changes in circumstances
Let your caseworker know as soon as possible if there are any changes in your circumstances that may affect the child, such as:
- you plan to move out of the area, interstate or overseas
- you’ve changed address
- you’ve changed your telephone number
- you have a baby
- you plan to go away on holiday
- someone has moved on to your property, whether into your house or another dwelling such as a caravan, granny flat or studio
- a partner is moving out of the home
- someone in your home has a serious illness or you’re having personal family problems
- someone is visiting with you for a period of three weeks or more
- someone in your household has been charged with or convicted of an offence.
Always keep your caseworker up to date on people who spend time with the child in your care, or who regularly stay in your home or nearby (such as in a flat or caravan on your property). A Working With Children Check (WWCC) is required for anyone over 18 who is living with you or having regular access to the child, even if that person is a partner or extended family member.
You might also be interested in...
Supporting school life
Routines and strategies to put in place at home to help kids achieve the best outcomes.Read more
Allowances and financial help
Information about payments to help cover the costs of caring for a child or young person in your home.Read more
What is a Case Plan and how does it work?
How Case Plans are used to build a better future for children and young people in careRead more