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childcare centres

Interested in fostering a child? Read our FAQ on foster care...

Allysa Carberry

What is foster care?

Foster caregiving aims to provide an appropriate family-like setting in which to care for children and young people who, for various reasons, cannot live with their own families/whanau

For what reasons are children placed in care?

Care and/or protection, is needed when a child or young person is believed to be ‘at risk’ because they are experiencing (or likely to experience), physical or sexual abuse, violence, conflict at home, emotional or physical neglect, a lack of stable or adequate care, or are exhibiting challenging behaviour.

Is there a need for more caregivers?

Foster carers are always needed. Caregivers are needed to provide a range of options to meet the varied needs of the children and young people coming into care. Having a sizeable pool of caregivers enables the department and agencies, to get the best match for the child or young person. Caregivers who are interested in, and have a commitment to, teenagers are always in demand.

Who can be a caregiver?

Caregivers come from all walks of life. What they have in common is a desire to help children and young people and an ability to provide them with support, understanding and encouragement. Caregivers can be male or female, married, single, separated or widowed. They can be full-time workers, part-time or seasonal workers or unemployed. They might live in their own homes or in rented accommodation. They include people from all races and religions.

What is the approval process for caregivers?

Caregiver checks comprise of a photographic identification check, police and medical checks, and two referee’s reports. Potential caregivers are interviewed by social workers (at least once in the home) who assess their suitability to care for children and young people. A police check and photographic identification check is also carried out for any adult (18 years and over) who is living in the household.

What training is offered for caregivers?

Caregiver Preparation Training is offered. Caregivers can also participate in a national foster care programme that Child, Youth and Family (CYF) delivers in association with the New Zealand Family and Foster Care Federation (NZFFCF) across the country. There are currently eight different courses available.

What other information is given to caregivers?

Caregivers receive a Caregivers’ Handbook. The handbook gives a general overview, information on roles and responsibilities, policies and guidelines, and practical issues such as behaviour management, developmental issues, abuse, health and wellbeing. The caregiver is very much part of a team, and information on, and plans about, the particular child should be shared with them.

What other back up is there?

When Social Workers place a child or young person in care, they must visit regularly (policy requires that CYF Social Workers must visit at least once every two months but, this will be much more frequent when a child is first placed.) This is an opportunity to check with the caregiver and to get feedback on the child or young person’s progress, as well as to spend time with them and hear how they are getting on. Caregivers can contact the case Social Worker for the child or young person in their care at any time. Sometimes respite (time out) care may be organised.

What benefits do caregivers get from their role?

Caregiving can enrich your life, as well as helping children to a better future. As a caregiver, you can contribute to your community, develop knowledge about yourself and gain skills which are transferable to work and family life. It can also be a good foundation for a career in early childhood education, social work or teaching.

What is the difference between being a caregiver for CYF, to being a Caregiver for an agency?

If the children, are in need of Care and Protection and the non CYF Caregivers are providing care for an Agency that has "level 1" approval (under section 396 of the CYP&F Act 1989) from CYF, then the support and care payments should be much the same.

Some examples are as follows:

- A plan which includes a clear indication of how long the child or young person may be with the caregiver

- Full information provided about the child/ren, their needs, problems and past difficulties

- Special support if the child or young person has special needs or disabilities

- Regular Social Worker visits to the child/ren

- Regular support and supervision for the caregiver/s and their family from a "Caregiver Liaison Social Worker"

- Board payments are correct, regular, and on time, (agencies are contracted to pay the same nightly board rate as CYF)

- Other costs (medical, activities or school fees etc) are met, and clothing allowances 3 monthly for medium to long term placements

- 24 hour phone no for emergencies (which gets to a live person who will respond)

- A newsletter

- A Caregiver's manual

- Full induction training for new caregivers

- Regular ongoing training

- Cultural appropriate consideration and support

- Honesty, integrity, and respect.

How many Grandparents are caring for Grandchildren, and how many childrendo they care for?

Our membership has climbed to 2300 and our support groups now number 36 withpotential for more to come on board.

How many approved caregivers does Child, Youth and Family have nationwide?

By Child, Youth and Family - As at September 30, 2003, 1744 non-family caregivers and 1265 family/whanau caregivers were approved carers for Child, Youth and Family.

How many children and young people are in the care of the Department?

By Child, Youth and Family – As at September 30, 2003, there were 4754 children and young people in care.

How do Caregiver Liaison Social Workers provide support to caregivers?

By Child, Youth and Family – As well as carrying out the approval of new caregivers, they deliver or facilitate training, provide Caregivers’ Handbooks, send newsletters, make six monthly visits to review the support the department is giving caregivers (may visit more often), sometimes organise network meetings, and are generally available to help caregivers if they have a problem.

For more information, visit Allysa's website:  www.hrs.org.nz/fostercare