Types of foster care

man playing with child

Children and young people stay in care until they are able to safely return home. The length of time in care will vary.

If they are not able to return to their birth parents, we try to locate a member of the child’s extended family to care for them. See more about relative or kinship care.

There are generally five types of foster care:

Immediate or crisis care

Emergency placements are for children who need an urgent placement because there are concerns for their immediate safety. These placements can occur after-hours and on weekends. Emergency carers need to be able to provide care for very young children at short notice.

Respite care

From time to time, parents and carers need a break from their caring role. Respite care is for short periods of time, eg. school holidays, weekends or for short periods during the week.

Short to medium-term care

These are placements up to six months in duration. Short to medium-term placements have a strong focus on reunifying the child with their birth parents or extended family.


These are placements for longer than six months. Long-term or permanent care placements usually refer to situations where the child is not expected to return to their family.

Relative or kinship care

Relative or kinship care is when a child or young person lives with a relative or someone they already know.

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To report suspected child abuse or neglect, call the Child Protection Helpline on 132 111 (24 hours/7 days)