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The difference between foster care and adoption

Many people are unsure of the differences between foster care and adoption. Both have their hardships and rewards. So what's the difference?

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.

Key Assets respectfully acknowledges the traditional custodians of this land

Key Assets Australia is a non-government, not for profit, non-religious, children, family and community services agency. Our purpose is to achieve positive and lasting outcomes for children, families, and communities.

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