Can I foster a child if I work full-time?


Parents who work full-time usually have a plan in place for their children, including child care or before or after school care. Placing children in foster care with third parties such as child care, may not be the best option for them, especially if they have already experienced so much change and disruption in their short lives. 

The good news is that if you are considering foster care, there are many care options available that may be right for you and your lifestyle. For instance, respite or short break care might be the best choice for you at this stage. You may decide to become a full-time carer down the track, when you have gained some more experience or your commitments change.

Let’s explore the different types of foster care that may be right for you.

What is respite care?

Respite (also known as a short break) care gives a child’s primary foster family a break for a short period of time. 

It is regular or occasional care for the weekend or as a mid-week break. Sometimes it can be up to a week or two during school holidays. Or maybe the primary carers need to travel overseas or interstate for longer periods of time.

You could be caring for the same child regularly on an ongoing basis, for example, one weekend a month or fortnightly. Or you could be caring for different children as a one-off arrangement.

If you are considering providing respite care, you will still need to complete the same application form, background checks, training and approval process as a primary foster carer.

There are so many benefits to respite care for you, the children you will care for and their primary foster carers. 

Although you are only spending a short time together, there are many ways you can make a long-term difference to a child’s life. The following section explores some of the positives of short term care.

Giving a child the opportunity to extend their social network

The short break can be full of fun, activities and adventures. These experiences help the child build trust with other adults and develop their confidence and social skills.

You could:

  • Go to a theme or water park
  • Take a child to the beach or hiking  
  • Spend time fishing or exploring a local park or beach
  • Go to the movies
  • Make dinner together e.g. pizza or dessert
  • Have a ‘Crafternoon’, play board games or finish a puzzle together 

Giving the child’s primary foster carer the time for self-care and to recharge

Caring for children can be demanding. Foster carers sometimes need a short break for self-care. To do something for themselves or to rest and just do nothing. This is so important in being able to maintain the quality of care and relationships within the foster family.

Gives you a good introduction to caring for foster children 

Respite care is foster caring that can fit in with your schedule. It’s also a good introduction if you decide you want to become a primary foster carer in the future.

Alan is a single dad with a teenage son. His first experience with children in foster care was seven years ago when he was working as a teacher’s aide. Since then, he has provided short term, respite and emergency care to many children.  You can read about Alan’s experience as a respite foster carer here.

Are you keen to find out if foster caring is right for you?

Try our quiz to see if you are a good fit to be a foster carer and what the next steps look like. 

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