We all know that fostering can be as demanding as it is rewarding, so foster carers, along with the children they are providing care for, sometimes need a break. As a short break foster carer, you could be there to provide much-needed support.
Short break fostering or Stay Over Breaks (formally known as ‘Respite Foster Care’) is when you provide care for a child or young person over a short period of time, usually somewhere between a weekend to a fortnight. This type of foster care provides families and foster carers with a network of support when they, and the children in their care, most need it.
In many cases, providing these short breaks can help young people stay with their full time foster carers, reducing potential placement moves and bringing more consistency for the children we provide care for.
Although there are lots of different reasons why short break fostering may be required, it is generally to provide support to parents or foster carers where children have higher or more complex needs. For example, a young person may have specific special educational needs or disabilities – or they may have been through trauma which is impacting their behaviours and relationships.
The main point to remember is that the short break is for both the foster carer and the child – giving both parties a chance to recharge and experience a short-term change of routine in a planned way.
As a short break foster carer, you can provide both internal and external breaks.
Internal Stay Over Breaks are when you provide care for a child of another TACT foster carer.
External Stay Over Breaks involve providing care for a child living at home or with carers from a different agency.
There are some different terms to describe this type of foster care depending on where you live:
England and Wales: generally this type of foster care is called ‘Stay Over Breaks’ – e.g. Internal Stay Over Breaks or External Stay Over Breaks.
Scotland: called ‘Short Breaks’ – e.g. Internal Short Breaks or External Short Breaks.
As with all other types of foster care, Short Break Fostering is a highly skilled role, and our fees and allowances reflect this.
If you join our fostering team, the allowance that you receive for short break fostering will be 75% of the total fee for the placed child.
You will also qualify for special tax arrangements and exemptions as a self-employed foster carer.
Read more about our standard fostering fees and allowances.
As a charity, we reinvest any surplus income into providing more training for our fostering households.
All our foster carers receive the same in-depth training – so as a Short Break foster carer you can expect to attend our initial Skills To Foster virtual training, as well as an ongoing annual training plan to help further your skills.
Our Skills To Foster course is delivered very early in the fostering application process, to give you a good idea of what fostering entails. It is delivered via video conferencing, so you can take part from the comfort of your own home. Skills to Foster is hosted by one of our social workers, and also one of our existing foster carers – giving you a full 360 degree view of fostering. Usually there will be other fostering applicants taking part too.
When you become an approved foster carer, you and your allocated Supervising Social Worker will discuss the training you need according to the type of fostering you want to do. Your training plan is reviewed every year to ensure you are receiving the correct training for your needs – to help you care for and change the lives of young people.
Read more about our fostering training.
All foster carers at TACT receive our comprehensive support, which includes being allocated your own dedicated Supervising Social Worker and full 24/7 support.
As a foster carer who is providing short break care, we will ensure that you are fully prepared to provide short term care – and your Supervising Social Worker will take you through the specific care needs and plans of young people slated to be placed with you.
Because we reinvest surplus income into providing more support for our fostering households, we are able to go above and beyond and develop innovative support services. Our aim is to ensure that you have plenty of resources around you, should you have a question or need some help or advice.
Read more about our support.
You may be more familiar with the term ‘Respite Foster Care’ rather than ‘Short Break Fostering’. In fact, many other fostering agencies and local authorities still use the term ‘respite’ to describe this type of foster care.
Here at TACT, the language we use is very important, both to us and the young people we provide care for. This is why we conducted a TACT Language That Cares Study with the children in our care, and it was concluded that the term ‘respite’ was not popular with our young people. Read more about why we changed our language on our Respite Foster Care: a Change of Language page.
Providing short break foster care could help young people stay with their current full time foster carer, meaning they could experience better consistency of care.
If you feel that you could change the lives of young people, you can make a no obligation enquiry today by completing the enquiry form on this page. Our team of enquiry officers will talk you through the process of becoming a foster carer with TACT. We are a charity, so we place no pressure on anyone to apply. Fostering needs to be the right choice for you and your household.