The difference between foster care and adoption

Many people are unsure of the differences between foster care and adoption. Both involve the care of a child who is not (usually) related to you. Both have their ups and downs, hardships and rewards. But what is the difference?

Foster Care

For a child’s best care and protection, the State Department may remove a child from their birth family. If no alternative care option is available, they will be placed in the Out of Home Care System.

Children can either be moved to a residential facility, group home or the home of a foster carer. The local Department of Child Protection services is usually responsible for the initial placement of a child and works with community-based agencies (such as Key Assets) to find an appropriate placement. During this process, a range of court and legal actions must take place prior to the placement of the child.

The length of time a child is placed with a foster carer varies significantly. The timeframe can range from weeks to years and can also include permanent long-term placements. Key Assets provide a range of different foster care placement types.

The aim of foster care is to re-unite the child with their birth family when it is safe and appropriate to do so. If this is not possible, the child may be placed with a foster care family permanently. At Key Assets, foster carers are provided with 24/7 support, a dedicated social worker, training and an allowance to care for the child.


Adopting a child is a permanent arrangement and the guardianship rights transfer to the adoptive parents. This means, as the adoptive parent, you will take on all legal responsibility for a child. Key Assets do not offer child adoption.

If you have identified that adoption or is not right for you, you may find that fostering can be a rewarding experience, allowing you to help a child or young person in need. Becoming a foster carer allows you to connect not only with foster children, but with other foster carers within your community.

To understand more about what it takes to become a foster carer, visit or contact Key Assets on 1800 WE CARE.