Becoming a permanent caregiver and giving a child a home for life

When children can't live with their own family, the thing that makes the biggest difference is foster parents who provide a safe and stable home, stick by them through thick and thin, and let them know they belong.

Giving a child a home for life means that they are no longer in the care of Child, Youth and Family; they are in your care for life.

How do I become a permanent caregiver and give a child a home for life?

To give a child a home for life, you'll begin as a foster parent. You'll either:

  • attend our free training and apply to be a foster carer. Trained social workers will work with you and assess whether foster care is right for you;
  • or you may already be a foster carer and thinking about making a lifelong commitment to the child in your care.

We then work to match the needs of children and young people in need of a home for life with the right caregivers.

Offering a home for life is a legal process and we will help you through the steps, work with you on the child's permanent care support plan and support you as you apply to the Family Court.

All going well, the judge will make the necessary orders which will provide the legal foundation for your child's permanent home.

Supporting home for life parents

We will make sure you are supported, given the right information and feel confident as you make this life-changing commitment.

Together with you and other people involved with the child, we'll create a plan to meet the child's individual needs, provide ongoing financial support through Work and Income and sort out ongoing contact with their birth family.

As a permanent caregiver you will be provided with a support package consisting of:

  • Payment of reasonable legal costs
  • A $2,500 upfront payment (and baby starter package where applicable)
  • Access to the National Foster Care Training Programme
  • Financial Support from Work and Income
  • An individualised and needs led permanent care support plan for up to the first 12 months
  • Referral to the Permanent Caregiver Support Service (see below)
  • Ability to comeback and access financial and other assistance (under s388A of the Children, Young People and their Families Act) for future needs up until the child reaches 17 years of age.

The Permanent Caregiver Support Service

The Permanent Caregiver Support Service (PCSS) is available to you if you are one of the following:

  • You are a special guardian.
  • You have obtained a s.48 order under the Care of Children Act in substitution for s.78, 101 or 110 orders, or a section 140 agreement under the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act.

You can contact PCSS social workers during normal office hours to ask for help any time up until the young person you’re caring for reaches 17 years old. PCSS will work with you and discuss how your needs can be met. A support plan will be developed and PCSS will coordinate delivery of agreed social work supports, services and financial assistance to you. The PCSS will make sure you get support in your local area or community. Examples of PCSS plan support can include:

  • providing supervised access services
  • counselling or therapeutic support for the child
  • advocating for you with other services to make sure you can get what you’re entitled to.

Details of the service are available at or Phone 0800 FOR PCSS (0800 367 7277). Email

Download the Permanent Caregiver Support Service information card