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What help will I get as a foster carer?
We want to do our best for you, so that you can do your best for the children in your care.
On this page:
How we will support you
As a caregiver we will make sure you are:
- included as a valued team member
- aware of your roles and responsibilities as a carer
- involved with planning for the child's future if they have been placed with you long term
- well-matched to the child in your care
- given on-going training and regular support
- able to say no to a placement
- consulted about when and where the children in your care visit their family
- able to ask for respite care if you need time out
- able to ask questions about decisions and plans made for the child in your care
- given full information about a child before they come to you (unless in an emergency)
- given a copy of the child's care plan which includes relevant details about the child's needs, behaviours and background.
Your social workers
The child's social worker is probably the person you will deal with most often. Talk to them about everything to do with the child in your care.
The caregiver social worker is there for any issues related to you, whether you're needing support or want to know about training opportunities.
Here are some helpful tips on building a great relationship with your social worker:
- Talk about expectations: When a child is first placed with you, make sure you talk about expectations, the details of the care plans and work out the best way to communicate - whether that's by email or by phone.
- Keep a diary: Record the child's behaviour, any events, incidents or even just something out of character. Ring the child's social worker if you sense anything unusual. "If for example a child comes home with a bruise, I write it in the diary and call my social worker straight away," says caregiver Heather. "Any caregiver should keep a diary; it's for your protection as well as your child's."
- Share your insights: As a caregiver, you have unique insight into your child.
- Caregivers need to be respected for their knowledge of the child and have regular opportunities to share this information," says caregiver social worker Cassandra.
- Be specific: When you leave a message for your social worker, tell them exactly why you're calling - for example, a doctor's appointment or arranging to visit the child's family.
- Tell them what response you need: Are you just looking for confirmation, or do you need your question answered?
- Give a timeline: Social workers are often out of the office and may not get your message until late in the day. Unless it's urgent give them a day to respond. They should get back to you but if they don't, ring again!
Do I get paid to be a foster carer?
People who foster do it because they care about making a difference to the children who need it most. We provide financial help to meet the day to day care of your child.
Foster Care Allowance (Board rates)
A care allowance is paid fortnightly, which covers board, personal items and pocket money for your child. Board includes things like:
- Food and general household items (eg cleaning, laundry and bathroom products)
- Heating and power
- Transport Costs – the reasonable cost of providing transportation to a child or young person to attend school and sport and\cultural activities (see below for more detail about chilld related travel)
- Telephone Costs - the cost of a primary telephone rental.
- Bedroom chattels and linen - toward upkeep and ongoing costs
- General Household Chattels - toward upkeep and ongoing costs of chattels in general living area
- Incidentals – miscellaneous expenditure such as haircuts, personal hygiene items and toiletries.
We also provide a quarterly clothing allowance, and allowance for Christmas and birthday presents. Health and Education costs are met and, depending on the child's care plan, we may be able to provide financial assistance towards recreational items.
The fact sheet below shows the foster care allowance rates (also known as board rates) along with clothing, Christmas and birthday allowances.
The Practice Centre has more detailed information about financial support, including:
- the standard payment and set-up grant
- reimbursement of child-related travel
Early Childhood Education funding support
There is funding available for up to 20 hours of ECE per week, to a maximum of $600.00 each month, for children aged 18months - 3yrs,
Caregivers' handbook and other resources / guidelines
The caregiver handbook is designed to help caregivers in their role, building on the wonderful skills and knowledge they have, and to clarify the roles and responsibilities for all those involved in caring for children.
Along with the handbook we developed a journal just for caregivers, so they can keep a record of the child or young person in their care, and their role as a foster parent.
We also have a range of helpful factsheets on specific topics covered in our workshops, for example: coping with grief; attachment types; access/contact with family; talking about abuse; actions to keep kids safe etc
Caregiver Training Programme
The National Caregiver Training Programme is a partnership between Child, Youth and Family and Fostering Kids (formerly New Zealand Family and Fostercare Federation). We work together to make sure foster children and young people are given the best of care by providing learning and development opportunities for caregivers. We offer a range of workshops, publications, and access to national qualifications.
We run local support groups, where you'll be able to get together with other caregivers to share your experiences and talk with others who understand the challenges and rewards of foster care. To find out more, talk to your caregiver social worker.
Other support groups you'll find useful include:
The Excellence in Foster Care Awards
Each year the New Zealand Family and Foster Care Federation give out awards to recognise carers who provide exceptional care, often going above and beyond the call of duty, to see their foster children be safe, strong and thrive in their care.
To find out more, call the NZFFC Federation toll free on 0800 69 33 23 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org