One of the great joys of being gay, lesbian or transgender is that there isn’t any pressure to have kids. In fact many of us are quite happy without children around, sadly though, many others in our LGBT communities would make fabulous parents and care givers but just don’t consider it as an option. It is illegal for same sex couples to adopt in Queensland, and surrogacy options are limited, difficult and very expensive. There is, however, another very rewarding option available – foster care.
For a variety of reasons children and young people will need a good home and stable adult to look after them for a period of time. This could range from emergency accommodation for a few nights or short term care of a few weeks, right up to a long term placement where you can provide the security of a stable foster home.
Around Australia there are almost 40,000 children needing out of home care and agencies such Key Assets are always on the lookout for good people who would like to open their homes and hearts. Prospective carers are able to nominate what type of placement would suit them best, while ongoing support and training is provided.
LGBT people interested in becoming foster carers can also be confident that they will be welcomed and encouraged by Key Assets who have been at the forefront of supporting LGBT carers. Key Assets have been a regular presence at pride marches and festivals around the country for some years now and their parent company Core Assets has been listed on the the UK’s Stonewall top 100 employers committed to promoting LGBT equality in the workplace.
There are a few boxes you must tick and a few important things to know before being approved as a foster carer, but to help get a clearer understanding, Key Assets has provided QNews with the answers to the most frequently asked foster care questions.
For more information about becoming a foster carer, check out www.keyassets.com.au or call (07) 3452 9900.
What is foster care?
Foster care means caring for someone else’s child or children in your own home. Foster carers provide a safe, secure and stable environment for children and young people. They work with the children, families and the authorities to help most young people return home as quickly as possible.
Many children who need foster care have experienced some degree of neglect and/or physical, emotional or sexual abuse. All of them will have experienced loss and separation from their birth family. Even if children present as happy and smiling, their past experiences will have an impact on their behaviour and development.
What are foster care placements?
There are many different types of foster care placements, each requiring different levels of care depending on the individual needs of the child.
At Key Assets, our foster care placements are usually for older children and teenagers. We are looking to recruit foster carers who are available full-time and who are prepared to offer foster care to children over the age of 6 years old.
Who can become a foster carer?
Anyone can apply to become a foster carer with Key Assets. We recruit foster carers who are single, married, co-habiting, divorced, gay, lesbian and heterosexual. We also recruit foster carers of different religions, cultural and ethnic groups.
To become a foster carer with us, you must satisfy certain requirements:
You must have a spare room in your house to comfortably accommodate a child or young person, as well as their personal belongings.
You must be over the age of 25.
You must be able to commit to fostering on a full time basis. (Exclusions may apply. Please contact us for further information.)
What checks are carried out on me and my household?
As a part of the application to foster, we work with the Department of Communities to carry out all checks on your household. These include Working with Children (Blue Card) checks on all adult members of the household as well as Suitability Checks through the State and inter-State government Child Protection Agencies, including New Zealand (if applicable).
A health and wellbeing questionnaire and medical examination by your GP will also be undertaken, with the report made available to our Agency Medical Advisor for their comments on your health. You will also be asked to provide three personal references, including one from a family member, who will provide written references and be interviewed as part of the assessment process. A standard Household Safety Study will be carried out in your home to ensure it is safe enough for a child or young person.
Can I choose how long I want children and young people to stay with me?
Before you are approved as a foster carer we will have discussed the different types of foster care placements that are needed for our young people. You can decide which types of placement would suit you best. If you would prefer emergency or temporary placements you do need to be aware that it isn’t always possible to know at the beginning of a placement exactly when a child will move on.
Can I choose which age group or sex I would prefer to foster?
Yes, you can. However, you are far more likely to have continuous placements if you are willing to take children of all ages. In Queensland, there is currently a shortage of foster carers particularly for teenagers and for children who have complex needs.
How much will I know about the child/young person before they are placed with me?
We discuss every placement with our foster carers and it is your decision as to whether to take a young person. We will provide you with as much information about the young person and his/her background as possible, including any difficult behaviour and how to manage it. However, you do need to be aware that sometimes we have very little information, especially in an emergency. We would always, however, seek to find out information as quickly as possible.