Children and Young People Respite care
Respite care provides a series of pre-planned short term
placements of a particular child with the same carer. The length
and timing of the arrangements can vary according to the specific
needs of the child and their family.
The 1989 Children Act provides a clear legislative framework for
the provision of short-term care. The Act requires children to be
consulted about their needs and about the services to be provided
and if a child is using "respite care", the local authority's
Social Services must draw up a care plan, visit the child from time
to time and review the placements on a regular basis. Whichever
agency is providing the short-term care, it should always be part
of an integrated and co-ordinated approach to meeting the child's
Respite care can be arranged on a one off or a regular basis. It
can also be arranged for short periods of time (such as a few
hours) or for longer stays of a week or more. Respite care is
usually arranged on a planned basis, but it may be arranged quickly
in an emergency situation.
Primarily, the respite care provides day care for children, which
could involve providing respite for just mornings, afternoons,
after school or at times over the weekend. On occasions, where
appropriate, respite carers can be asked to have the child for
overnight stays. There are instances when respite carers can be
asked to provide longer terms of care. This would be subject to
their availability, approval and providing that this does not
exceed a period of four weeks.
The conditions of working within the respite carer scheme means
that the carer can regulate their level of commitment. This can be
suited to meet their availability and the circumstances of their
own family needs. Some carers find it easier to work with just one
or two children while others enjoy the dynamics and demands of
working with a number of children. Some placements can be planned
to be with carers for different periods throughout the weeks.
Why do children need respite
The respite carer scheme has been established for the
benefit of the children and their families. For children to be
placed within the scheme there has often been some family crisis or
problem for which they need some support or assistance. This
includes a family illness, the parents finding the child's
behaviour very difficult to handle or the parent is not coping.
Respite care offers a break or a series of breaks that could act to
prevent a family breakdown or the child being placed in foster
The true value of the respite carer scheme is that it seeks to
maintain a child in their own home and helps to keep families
Are all children who need respite care
difficult and disturbed?
All children who are referred to the respite carer
scheme will have gone through change in their lives by being
withdrawn from their own family, if only for a short time. They may
have been emotionally disturbed and upset due to the events of a
family crisis. Children in respite care could also have had to cope
with other moves, maybe with relatives or alternative respite
carers. Indeed there could have been many circumstances in their
lives that mean they need sensitive care.
The way in which children react and respond to changes whilst being
introduced into an alternative home will be different. Some can be
aggressive and uneasy, others may at first be over polite and
willing to please. Others will withdraw into themselves, or act as
if they haven't a care in the world. In some circumstances children
can come from very deprived homes and on other occasions, they may
have been neglected and not provided with the same level of care
that you would be able to offer.
What respite care does do, is provide the family and the child with
the opportunity of a break while at the same time enabling social
services to gain more understanding of both the child and family's
Respite carers do work very closely with families to help parents
overcome the problems they experience.
What is involved in being a respite
Respite carers are a group of caring, responsible
people who are trained to work with children and families offering
them support, respite, advice and attention. All respite
- work for the Council's Social Services
- work from their own home
- prepare reports and assessments
- provide short term emergency placements
- support first time mothers before and after
birth and assist with parenting skills
- are available at short notice
- work with children up to 14 years old
- provide planned summer holiday care.
From a child's point of view, a respite carer will:
- always treat them as part of the family
- listen and talk to them
- discipline them
- protect them and look after their needs
- be there for cuddles, reassurance and trust
- help build ongoing relationships with people who
are important to them and will provide them with information
- work with different children at different
Requirements of becoming a respite
Becoming a respite carer requires:
- ability to satisfy requirements of statutory
checks and references
- attendance at support training meetings.
You would not be considered suitable if:
- you are over 58 years old
- you and your partner work full time (unless you
wish to do weekend respite)
- any member of your household has a serious
- you already respite or foster for another
- you are currently waiting to adopt
- you have a child currently being looked after by
a social services department.
Assessment for becoming a respite
An initial visit to your home will take place to
discuss the respite scheme.
With agreement to continue, your permission will be sought to
undertake statutory checks and references. These include police,
probation, health visitor (where appropriate) and two referees. You
will be asked to attend a medical with your own doctor, paid for by
Social Services. A health and safety inspection will be made on
your home and garden.
Subject to satisfactory references and checks, you will be invited
to attend a series of training sessions.
A family assessment will be completed during a number of visits to
The completed assessment is submitted to the Council's Panel.
Subject to the Panel's agreement, you will be approved and
registered as a Council respite carer.
How to contact us:
You can contact us through the duty social worker in
our Intake and Assessment Team by telephone, letter or in
Intake and Assessment Team
North (Bedford area)
Telephone: 01234 223599
Fax: 01234 353263
Emergency Duty Team
Telephone: 0870 238 5465
For information or to apply for the service email: firstname.lastname@example.org