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Foster care

Ever wondered who cares for foster carers? Lighthouse does foster care differently.

About Becoming a Foster Carer in Melbourne, Victoria

In Victoria, there are over 1000 children needing foster care. Lighthouse’s foster care program provides tailored support, therapeutic care and a sense of community for foster care families across the northern and southern Melbourne regions.

By becoming a foster carer, you’re not just giving back to your community, you’re providing a young person with the chance to feel safe, loved & supported to grow. We care for you, so you can care for them. 

Our unique model works by uniting foster carers around a central ‘Hub Home’ where trained therapeutic carers offer regular respite, sleepovers, access to trauma informed support and advice to the entire foster family.

Express your interest in becoming a foster carer in Melbourne

Become a foster carer with Lighthouse Foundation and help give vulnerable children a safe and happy home.

Talk to one of our friendly team members on:

Foster care

Enquire about our foster care program today

Lighthouse is in urgent need of foster carers who are willing to help better the lives of vulnerable children in the northern and southern Melbourne regions.

We are looking for people from all walks of life, who are willing to open their hearts and their homes to children who urgently need care.

We recognise that the fostering journey is not always easy, but at Lighthouse we ensure that we are with you every step of the way. We care for you, so you can care for them.

Enquire here

FAQs about Foster Care

What is foster care?

Foster care is provided by people in their own homes for children and young people who cannot live with their families. Where it is in their best interest, children and young people are reunited back with their family as soon as possible.

Do you get paid as a foster carer?

In Victoria, home-based carers  (both foster carers and kinship carers) receive a care allowance to help cover the costs associated with caring for a child placed in their home.

The exact amount of the allowance can vary depending on factors such as the age and needs of the child, as well as the level of care required. Carer’s receive financial support in the form of a fortnightly caregiver reimbursement, paid by the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing.

The allowance is intended to assist with expenses such as food, clothing, and other necessities for the child’s care.

What types of foster care can I provide?

There are four main types of foster care that you can provide; long-term, short-term, respite and emergency. When you become a foster carer you can choose the types of care that best suit you and your circumstances.

How long does it take to become a foster carer?

On average it takes six to nine months to become an accredited foster carer.

However, everyone’s circumstances are different. This process is a collaboration between you and our Lighthouse team, who will schedule visits, organise training and assessments at a pace that suits you.

Do I need a spare bedroom?

Yes. Children in foster care need privacy and a neutral space to call their own. This means you need to have one spare bedroom in order to become a foster carer. Some agencies may accept people without spare bedrooms to care for babies but this is on a case-by-case basis.

What support is available for foster carers?

When you become a foster carer, Lighthouse supports you every step of the way. Lighthouse has 24/7 on-call workers so you can access support at any time of the day.

There are also carer support groups and events that you can join and free training that you can attend to build your skills.

There is also the Foster Care Assocation of Victoria which provides support and advocacy for foster carers. This includes the Carer Assistance Program, a free counselling and support service and the Carer Helpdesk to assist with administrative issues.

Do foster carers always have children staying with them?

No. As a foster carer, you can decide when you want a child to come and stay. You can also decide to take a break in between children coming into your care. Whilst there is a great need for foster carers, your well-being is the first priority.

What will I know about a child before they're placed with me?

Before a child comes and stays with you, Lighthouse will share as much information about the child as possible so that you can decide if it is right for you.

Before accepting a child to come a stay, you can ask as many questions as you like such as:

  • If they have medical needs, and how to take care of them
  • Their current routine: whether they attend child care, kindergarten, school or work
  • Their behavioral needs and support they may require

Sometimes a child may come into care at very short notice and there isn’t a lot of information available yet.  Lighthouse will do everything we can to find out as much information and provide this to you.

What support do foster carers receive from Lighthouse Foundation?

24/7 Support

We’re on hand to help around the clock to provide advice and support.

In-Home Support

Therapeutic Carers who can role model therapeutic approaches to caring for young people in your own home.

Learning and Development

Receive ongoing learning through individual clinical
supervision and group reflective practice for foster carers

Connection to the Community

Local volunteers are on hand to build a sense of belonging and connection through assistance, support and community events.

Lighthouse’s Model of Care

Be guided to care for young people using trauma-informed approaches, attachment theory, and contemporary psychoanalytic theory.

Additional Respite

In addition to regular respite, the opportunity for care to be provided by our therapeutic carers in our Hub Homes for extra support.

Foster care

It’s life-changing

1

By becoming a foster carer, you’re not just giving back to your community, you’re providing a young person with the chance to feel safe, loved & supported to grow. That journey begins with you.
2

Lighthouse Foster Care provides tailored support, therapeutic care and a sense of community for our foster carers.
3

Our unique model works by uniting foster carers around a central ‘Hub Home’ where trained therapeutic carers offer regular respite, sleepovers, access to trauma informed support and advice to the entire foster family.

Our foster carers’ stories

James' story

“They helped me with group and one to one sessions with a clinician. I really felt supported.”

James had previous experience in other states before coming to Lighthouse, his work meant that he needed to move to Victoria so when he made the move, he contacted us about becoming a Carer.

After his training and accreditation, he met Terry and 8-year-old boy and started a short term placement. Because of Terry’s experiences before coming into care, he often responded in ways to express his trauma. This could at times be challenging and difficult for James. Terry would often be bouncing around, unable to stay still. When he found things tough, he tried to break things, throw them and call James names.
To support James, Lighthouse Therapeutic Carers went into the home 3 nights per week. They role-modelled ways that James could respond to Terry using play, curiosity, acceptance and empathy. Sometimes our Therapeutic Carers looked after Terry so James could have a break.

Terry would also stay with us in our Hub Home every second weekend and engaged in the Lighthouse community through activities and events where he was able to meet and spend some time with other young people in care. Terry started to feel he had a place he belonged.
James said that ‘I found some days really tough but was able to contact one of the team at Lighthouse to talk through how I was feeling, and they helped me by taking part in group reflective spaces and one to one sessions with a clinician. I really felt supported.’

James was committed to showing Terry that despite the hard times, he was there for him and was not going to leave. This commitment and patience showed Terry that he could trust James and he started to feel safety in their relationship, and slowly started to realise he did not need to push and test whether James would always be there for him.

Clare's story

“The training I received was helpful in understanding how to respond to children in a trauma informed way, learning patience is key.”

Clare has been caring for children in foster care for the past 10 years. As a single woman, she sought out Lighthouse after researching local agencies and enquired with us highlighting an interest in our Model of Care and support available for Foster Carers. Clare was new to the foster care system in Victoria, so she was asked to complete a new assessment.

Clare said that she was really impressed with Lighthouse’s professionalism, throughout the whole process since putting in her application.  ‘I really felt Lighthouse was clear and approachable’ Our care team provided timeframes and answered all her questions and Clare told our team ‘I was very impressed with Lighthouse’s therapeutic approaches to caring; I felt a sense of a real team approach in the program.  The training I received clarified how to respond to children in a trauma informed way, learning patience is key, which really helped reflect on previous experiences and how I can continue to grow and learn.’

Leonie's story

“For me, fostering was never a question of if, but a question of when.”

It all began when I was given a foster care pamphlet 20 years ago and since then I’ve never looked back. I was a young mum of two, who were under the age of two, and I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude – we had everything we could ever need. I wanted to give back on a personal level and provide a sense of giving that would be a guiding value to our family.

My biological children knew no different – they had foster siblings that would stay for varying lengths of time and they knew that how we helped each would need to be different. They learned compassion and patience and that love is simply love. Our family adopted a very special boy, Alex, at the age of two and he holds equal amounts of space in our hearts, as we hold for each other.

Reflecting back on some of the foster placements we took on at places other than Lighthouse, we weren’t provided with much detail prior and there was an absence of trauma-informed training and ongoing psychological support. That is what sets Lighthouse apart.

Had we been better prepared to deal with each child’s individual needs and experiences and had foster family matches been considered with the same rigor as Lighthouse, I think we could have been more effective in helping to heal and grow these children like we did with Alex. Had our program offered the lifelong extended family network that Lighthouse does, we’d know that each foster child we cared for would always have someone walking alongside them, during both the highs and lows of their life.

I do believe that foster children in Lighthouse’s programs are far more likely to rebuild and maintain relationships with their birth families, which is the ultimate goal of fostering.

Lighthouse recognises those who so deeply want to care for these vulnerable children and young people in the way they deserve, and they build training and support around them so they can fulfil that goal.
 
No other fostering program leans in like Lighthouse does. I truly believe what they provide makes the most impactful difference for everyone involved – all members of foster families, birth families, the community and society more broadly.

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