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Founder’s letter

Every child has the right to a home.

Hello,

If you’re reading this, I can safely assume that something is drawing you to foster care and perhaps Lighthouse specifically.

In my experience, there’s not a typical path into fostering, just as there’s no such thing as the typical foster carer. That said, all foster carers are united by core values and beliefs that are close to their hearts.

All foster carers believe that every child has the right to a home – not just a house – a place of belonging where they feel cared for and honoured physically, emotionally, mentally, culturally and spiritually.

What I’ve learnt from fostering myself and then through Lighthouse’s residential homes, is that foster families thrive with increased therapeutic and practical support.

At Lighthouse, we believe that caring for children is everyone’s business and the ready-made community of Lighthouse professional carers, psychologists, community committees and other support services are part of our point of difference.

From the moment you enter Lighthouse Foster Care – as a foster child, foster carer, foster sibling or employee – your wellbeing, capability and capacity to care is nurtured by training and support that is tailored to individual needs.

In 2022, there are more than 12,000 Victorian children living in statutory care. The latest predictions from Centre For Excellence in Child and Family Welfare Victoria are that by 2026 this will increase to 27,500 in Victoria. So many are in desperate need of a safe home with capable and kind people to care for them. That person could be you – forever supported by us.

I hope that if it’s right for you, you’ll join us.

Get in touch

You can reach out to one of our team members on

1800 542 273

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 Melbourne, Victoria.

Foster carers come from all walks of life and offer a range of different types of foster placements. We know that every child is different, and every home is different.
As a foster carer, you will provide stability and support, while also being supported through your foster care journey with Lighthouse.

Enquire here

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 Melbourne, Victoria.

Foster carers come from all walks of life and offer a range of different types of foster placements. We know that every child is different, and every home is different.
As a foster carer, you will provide stability and support, while also being supported through your foster care journey with Lighthouse.

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

James

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

Clare

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

Leonie

Our 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.

Frequently asked questions

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.

What is respite foster care?

Respite care involves having a child in care for short stays. This could be regular weekends, school holidays or one-off overnight stays.

What is emergency foster care?

Emergency foster care may involve an overnight stay or last for up to two weeks. Carers who provide emergency care can be contacted at short notice at any time of the day.

What is short-term foster care?

This is up to about six months care, which often ends when a child or young person is reunified with their parents or placed with extended family members.

What is long-term foster care?

Long term care is arranged when a child or young person cannot return home for some time.  This is generally for care greater than six months. It may cease when a permanent care order is made, or when the child or young person reaches adulthood and becomes independent.

What is therapeutic foster care?

This is care where therapeutic foster carers with specialist training, support and financial assistance work closely with a team of professionals to provide care for children and young people who need therapeutic responses to their specific needs.

What is voluntary foster care?

Parents can voluntarily place their child in an out-of-home care placement for a period due to factors including parental illness, family crisis or for emergency reasons. The parent does this by signing an agreement with a foster care agency. Parents making voluntary placements retain their existing parental responsibilities and the agreement can be ended at any time.

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Read Lighthouse Carer, Ricky’s story.