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Respite fostering

Respite care helps children and families affected by disability. Caring for a child or a young person with disabilities can be challenging and can have an impact on both parents and other family members. Any child can be demanding of time and energy and many parents can get exhausted and isolated, but when your child has a disability the challenges may be more complex and long term.

Families who are coping with the extra pressures of caring for a child with a disability need a break. They also need to know that there is someone whom they can trust and who can look after their child safely and well.

Girl in pink jumper with pigtails

Family based care helps to provide support, making sure parents have the chance to recharge their batteries and children and young people have new and beneficial experiences, broadening their horizons, and giving them new rewarding relationships.

Sometimes this is called “respite”, but this implies that it is just for the family and doesn’t highlight the benefits for the child to have different and new experiences.

Family and friends provide invaluable help, but sometimes it is beneficial to have help outside the family, in particular where some families don’t have family nearby or much support.

There isn’t a typical child or teenager who goes for short breaks.They can start going to another family or carer as a baby, or when they are in their teens. When it works well children can visit for many years and the two families have long lasting trusting relationships.

Short break and respite carers

Disabled children and their families need families they can trust.  Many short break carers just want to provide a break for one or at the most two families and commit to a weekend a month. Quite often people come forward to do this because they already know a family where a child is affected by disability.

Because these children may have fewer needs than children on the Positive Partner scheme, payments are different.

Other kinds of family based care

Some families want to and can commit more time to more families, as part of the Positive Partner Scheme, where each carer family is linked with four families and provides set times every six weeks to each child.

In order to do this, it isn’t possible to work full time and provide the service so the main carer is either at home full time or has a part time job.  Carers in the scheme tend to have had more contact and experience of disability, either through their own family, or as part of their work in health, education or the voluntary sector. Children placed with Positive Partners tend to have more complex needs.

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What it means for you and your family

You will be asked to look after a child or young person for short periods of time, from an overnight stay per month to a weekend per month. The time and frequency is usually agreed and planned beforehand, so everyone knows what the pattern is, and can prepare. It can sometimes take time for you, the child and the family to build up relationships, especially when the child has not spent time away from home.

While the support we provide is aimed at the needs of the parents for a break so that they can continue to care for their children we also work with the principle that the children have rights which must be respected.

  • To be safe
  • To be valued as an individual
  • To be treated with dignity and respect
  • To be loved and cared for as a child first.

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