Become a carer


Frequently asked questions

Making a real difference to the lives of mokopuna/children is incredibly rewarding. But there are lots of things to consider before you start. Our FAQs can help you think about whether becoming a matua whāngai/foster carer is right for you and your whānau.

Why does mokopuna need foster care?

Mokopuna come into foster care for a variety of reasons – many of them have experienced neglect or physical, emotional or sexual abuse. All mokopuna have faced separation from their birth whānau. The mokopuna our matua whāngai take into their homes have been referred to Key Assets by Oranga Tamariki. These mokopuna need the support of patient and loving people who can help them achieve their full potential. All matua whāngai receive wrap-around support and training from day one.

Who are the children I’ll be fostering?

We provide foster placements for children, young people, and sibling groups. Many have experienced trauma or abuse. As a result, caregiving families need to prepare for some challenges. Children placed in your care may:
  • Run away or skip school.
  • Refuse to listen or do what is being asked of them.
  • Become verbally abusive or physically violent.
  • Demonstrate sexualised behaviours.
  • Self-harm.
Foster caregiving is challenging but deeply rewarding. Before you take on a mokopuna, we’ll provide you with as much information as possible – so you can make an informed decision about whether you and your whānau will be the right fit.

How to get put in foster care as a child?

As a child, you don’t enter the foster care system yourself. Often, a child is placed in foster care under the following circumstances:
  • A Family Court Judge determines that the child requires care and protection, subsequently placing them under the custody or guardianship of the Oranga Tamariki or a non-government welfare organisation like Key Assets.
  • A Youth Court Judge decides that a young person needs care under the Oranga Tamariki’s supervision until the conclusion of their court proceedings.
  • A parent consents to an agreement with Oranga Tamariki, granting Oranga Tamariki the authority to arrange foster care for the child, either on a short-term or long-term basis.

How to become a foster carer with Key Assets?

To become a foster carer with Key Assets, you typically need to go through several steps:
  1. Initial Enquiry: You would start by expressing your interest in becoming a foster carer with Key Assets. This could involve contacting us directly or attending an information session in your local community.
  2. Completing checks: All household members over the age of 18 must undergo police and MSD checks, the applicant must undertake a medical check by your GP and complete the application form.
  3. Training Session: You are required to attend a Whakawhanaungatanga session with us. This takes part in our office and involves a training session around foster care.
  4. Home visit: As part of the process, two team members from Key Assets will conduct a home visit. This includes a health and safety check of your home.
  5. Assessment: Key Assets will conduct an assessment process to determine your suitability to become a foster carer. This involves interviews, background checks, and home visits to assess your ability to provide a safe and nurturing environment for a child.
  6. Mid-way Review: The midway review meeting, attended by your assessor and a Key Assets Senior Manager, is a midpoint check-in during the assessment process for prospective foster carers. It provides a farum to openly discuss and address any concerns or challenges that have emerged.
  7. Approval: If you successfully complete the assessment and training process, you will be approved as a foster carer with Key Assets. This approval typically involves signing agreements and completing paperwork.
  8. Welcome: Once you are approved as a foster carer we will conduct a whakatau in your home environment to celebrate your success.
  9. Induction: The inducation session covers essential information and familiarises yourself with Key Assets’ practices and protocols to ensure a smoot transition into your new role.
  10. Matching and placing: Key Assets will work to match you with a child or children who would be a good fit for your home and family. This process considers factors such as the needs and preferences of both the child and the foster carer.

What kinds of checks will I need to undergo?

As part of the application process, we carry out checks on all members of your household. These include:
  • A criminal records check on everyone over the age of 18 who lives with you.
  • Checks with The Ministry of Social Development and Oranga Tamariki.
  • A medical check from your GP.
  • A household safety check.
  • Personal references from your friends and whānau.
  • Personal references from adult children (if applicable).
You cannot become a matua whāngai if you have a recent conviction of any kind or a historical conviction for a violent offence.

What happens once I’m approved as a matua whāngai?

Once our background checks have been completed and your application to become a matua whāngai is approved, we begin the process of matching you with a mokopuna. During this time, we work hard to make sure that you and your whānau are the right fit for the mokopuna who needs care. This matching process considers a number of factors, including the age of your own mokopuna, your strengths and skills as a matua whāngai, and the behaviours and needs of the mokopuna. After the matching process is complete, you'll be prepared to accept a placement, and we'll collaborate closely with Oranga Tamariki to create a transition plan for the mokopuna.

What happens when I don’t want to be a foster parent anymore?

If you find yourself in a situation where you no longer wish to continue as a foster parent, we completely understand. Our Key Assets team will work closely with you to ensure a smooth transition. It's essential to prioritise the well-being of the child in your care throughout this transition. We'll work together to find the best possible placement for the child, whether that means returning them to their birth family, finding another foster family, or exploring other options that meet their needs.

Who takes a mokopuna to school and appointments?

As a carer, you’ll be responsible for carrying out day-to-day tasks such as taking the mokopuna to school and appointments. You will also need to be available during school and Christmas holidays, or should the mokopuna in your care be sent home from school.

Can a mokopuna share a bedroom with one of my own children?

No. More often than not mokopuna need to have their own bedrooms. If similar-age, same-gender siblings are placed with you, they may be able to share a bedroom, but this will require safety planning and approval by Oranga Tamariki.

How much is the foster care allowance in NZ for being a matua whāngai?

To support you in caring for a mokopuna, you will receive a foster care allowance from Key Assets of $678 per mokopuna per week.

What can I use the allowance for?

You can use the foster care allowance to pay for whatever the mokopuna needs in your care. This includes, but is not limited to, things like:
  • Pocket money for the mokopuna.
  • Local travelling costs to training events, support groups, appointments, and school.
  • Basic school equipment.
  • The mokopuna’s hobbies, interests, activities, and trips.
  • Telephone calls related to your fostering responsibilities.

Can I balance paid employment with foster caring?

In some cases, it is still possible to continue with other paid work – but this depends on the circumstances and requires a great deal of flexibility from both you and your workplace.  We also require primary mātua whāngai to make themselves available for support groups and training – which mainly occur between Monday-Friday.

“Some kids adapt and change quicker than others, and sometimes you might not see a shift for a long time… but it does come.”

Don, Key Assets Foster Carer

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