What is respite fostering?


The term ‘respite’ in fostering is now being widely replaced with ‘short break’, as it better describes the benefits of these type of care placements for everyone involved, especially children and young people.

A Short Break Foster Carer or Respite Foster Carer are an essential part of the Care Visions team. The Foster Carers that provide this type of care can be the glue needed to support families to be whole again and to thrive.

Life is difficult and stress can be a big part of day-to-day family life with the continued adversity the country faces. In providing short term foster support, informally often described as fostering respite, a carer can make a difference not only for a child or young person’s life but the lives of birth families and foster families as a unit.

This type of foster care could present in many different ways and is essential when long-term fostering for children is not in their best interest. For example, short breaks could provide care for a child with additional needs over a weekend, once a month. This is to support a family that need a short period of time to rest themselves and recharge. Additionally, short breaks could provide care for children for a few weeks if there is a family emergency. There are many more examples of why children or young people may need a foster care placement for a short break and for a short period.

Some of our Short Break Foster Carers work during the week and offer support over weekends and holiday periods and some Foster Carers prefer Short Break fostering as an option which suits their other family commitments.


What will Short Break Fostering mean for me and for a child?

Being a Short Break carer is a rewarding role and can be an opportunity for children and young people to have new experiences. It means a child can come to a chilled-out space and have time out. Occasionally short breaks can be due to the child/family being in crisis and they need that therapeutic care to make them feel safe and secure.

Both Foster Carers and the child or young person can build new, lasting and trusting relationships up until their adult life, especially if the short breaks or fostering respite are a regular long-term arrangement. Foster Carers who know they are only caring for a child for a short period of time can be the influence that a child will remember for their lifetime.

Being a Short Break carer is not restrictive you can do it alongside short term and long term fostering.

Sometimes there can be breaks in fostering , in which a child has not been matched with carers for a few weeks. Therefore, short break/respite can be an option during that time. Similarly, if you have started as a Short Break Carer you can move on to offer long term care if this fits in with your lifestyle.


What support do I get as a Short Break Carer?

All foster placements are carefully considered and matched, considering the child’s needs and what Foster Carers are able to offer the children and young people they care for. This process is an extensive one and is no different in Short Break fostering / those offering fostering respite. Foster Carers will receive the same level of support and training as every other Foster Carer within the agency. Supervision and support is provided by Supervising Social Workers and Therapeutic Family Workers, with a number of years’ experience working with Foster Carers and children, who are care experienced and have experienced trauma. Workers both support you as a Foster Carer and the child in your care to ensure you and the child you care for continue to thrive.

Short Break fostering offers a flexible full-time Fostering alternative which can work around your other commitments and schedule. If you would like more info about becoming a Short Break Carer, or would like to know more about what’s involved, please visit here.