Document Type

Journal Article


Administrative data on foster carers in New South Wales (NSW) are sadly lacking. Based on research commissioned by the NSW Department of Community Services, this paper uses the Australian Bureau of Statistics Census of Population and Housing and other data to provide up to date information on the characteristics of foster carers and the demographic trends that are influencing their numbers. Census data indicate that foster carer families are most likely to contain women aged 35-54 years, not in the labour force. Couples account for two thirds of all foster carers, with the majority of those couples also caring for birth children. While single parents account for less than one-fifth of all foster carers, they are more likely to foster than couples, either with or without birth children. Higher rates of fostering were found in relatively disadvantaged areas. Projected increases in female labour force participation are expected to contribute to a decline (or to slower growth) in the number of foster carers over the next decade. However, projected increases in sole parent families and couples without children are expected to have the opposite effect. The relative magnitude of these effects was not ascertained.