Become a Carer

Foster and kinship carers are the backbone of the Northern Territory’s child protection system.

These volunteer professional parents work hard to provide stability and make a difference in the lives of children who have been neglected or abused or whose parents just need some time out.

Sometimes it’s just providing occasional emergency care for babies or weekend respite for other carers who need a break.

More often it’s short or long-term parenting for children whose families can’t cope or children who have suffered trauma, neglect or have demanding medical needs.

Foster and kinship carers are busy families, retirees who want to give back, professionals such as teachers and medical staff, grandparents taking in relatives, Aboriginal people embracing family and everyday Territorians opening their homes and their hearts to children in need.

For all of them, providing quality care is a rewarding but challenging role.

Foster Carers Association NT is an independent, non-government, not-for-profit agency set up to help foster and kinship carers meet these challenges by providing support and information on carers rights and services, offering confidential advice and advocating on behalf of carers.

The Carer Assessment Process provides an overview of what you have to do to become a registered carer in the Northern Territory. Our team are here to provide you information and support through the assessment and registration process. Our Advocates do not take part in the assessment process, but are simply here to help you with the process where possible. Once completed your Expression of Interest form is forwarded directly to the Department of Children and Families who will begin the assessment process.

Please do not hesitate to contact one of our fabulous Advocates for further information on becoming a carer. 

Begin online membership and carer expression of interest form



What are the types of foster care?

Different types of foster care can be varied to suit your lifestyle and other commitments.

  • Emergency Foster Care – urgent placements to remove a child from an unsafe situation while an assessment is made of its future.
  • Respite Care – when temporary care helps give foster carers and parents a break from their caring role.
  • Short to Medium-term Foster Care – when you act as a child’s primary carer for up to six months.
  • Long-term Foster Care – for longer-term placements in your home.
  • Kinship Care – relatives such as grandparents, aunts, uncles or other family members take the children into their homes, either short or long-term.

Consider becoming a carer. You really can make a difference in a child’s life!


Who is the foster care partnership team?

Foster care means sharing the care of the child. The foster care team includes the child, the child’s family, the foster or kinship family and Department of Children and Families (DCF) caseworkers and agency workers.

When a child enters care workers develop a case plan. This plan gives direction and purpose to the partners involved in caring for the child. It helps understand the aims and expectations of the team members, length of the placement and the contact arrangements (family visits) for the child.

A carer knows they are sharing the care of the child with the child’s family, their teachers, medical professionals and government workers.

All foster and kinship parents receive support through the DCF and independent support agency, Foster Carers Association NT Incorporated.


Who can apply to become a foster or kinship carer?

Adults can apply to become a carer if they are in good physical and emotional health and have a strong desire to help a child or young person. You do not have to be married or own your own home to be a carer.

You can be:

  • single, married, or in a de facto relationship, including same sex couples
  • a parent of other children who are still at home or who have grown up and left home, or you may have no children
  • a person who works with children in a professional capacity, such as a teacher, doctor, nurse or police officer
  • renting, buying or own your own home.
  • working full-time or part-time, retired or not working
  • from a culturally diverse background
  • living in a city, small town or remote location

Aboriginal people from both urban and remote environments are encouraged to consider foster caring to make it easier to place children in a culturally appropriate environment.

When you apply to be a carer, you will be assessed for suitability. If you are approved, an appropriate placement will be assigned to you depending on the type of care you can provide.

Reasons for ineligibility include some types of criminal offences, an unsafe living environment, an inability to provide appropriate care, unsuitable accommodation and people living in or visiting your house that the Department deems inappropriate company for vulnerable children.


Who pays the foster carer entitlements?

When you become a carer there are various payments and concessions you are entitled to as part of your caring role. There are some things you will be expected to pay for; The Alternative Care Support Payments Quick Reference Guide outlines who pays for what. You can also call the DCF Payment Hotline on (08) 8999 1006