Being a Short Break Foster Carer

Foster carers provide a family home for children and young people, who are unable to stay with own family, usually because they have experienced neglect or abuse. Foster carers do a fabulous job ensuring that children feel safe and are able to experience feeling part of a loving family for as long as the child needs.

Foster carer with child

There are times when foster carers might want to have a night out, take a short holiday or need to do things that cannot involve a fostered child. It is important at times like this, that a child can have a fun stay with someone else that they know, so they continue to feel part of a safe and secure family. We liken short breaks, to when a child has a sleepover at their grandparent’s house or with their aunt or uncle, whilst their parents have a night out or take a short trip.

For children and young people, staying with a stranger, can be understandably scary. It’s important therefore that children feel that they know the people they are staying with, especially if they are having a short break. We work closely with our short break foster carers, to enable them to get to know the children who are likely to need to stay with them. The relationship will develop over time and as the children and short break carers get to know each other, our aim for a child to feel comfortable and look forward to having a short break, will be achieved. It should be fun and relaxed, for everyone involved!

Evidence indicates that there are lots of great outcomes for children who have positive relationships with adults in their lives. For children living in the care system, having a variety of wonderful adults supporting them, helps them to thrive. We therefore see the role of a short break foster carer as a significant adult in a child’s life, someone who can have remarkable influence and therefore become part of their extended family.

Frequently asked questions

Who can become a short break foster carer?

Essentially you must have a spare room that can be available for a child to use, a good sense of humour and the energy and desire to help settle a child and do fun activities with them.

How often would I provide short breaks?

Foster carers know usually in advance when they are likely to require the help of a short break foster carer. We therefore work together to plan ahead and give lots of notice to short break carers. Depending on when you are able to provide care, will determine how often you provide short breaks.

Will I be required to provide just weekend breaks?

Short break carers can provide just weekend stays or in some cases also provide stays for up to a couple of weeks if required, for example during school holidays. Depending on your lifestyle, family and work commitments you can provide more or less short break opportunities for children. Each short break carer is different and we work with you individually.

What is involved in providing a short break?

As a short break foster carer, you will be contacted by a member of the team when a short break is required. If the timing of the short break works for you and you are happy that you can provide what is required by the child or young person, then we will provide more information about the child and if you haven’t already met them, arrange for introductions to be made. This might be over facetime initially, and then perhaps face to face depending on the time available. The idea is to ensure everyone feels ok.

We will develop a welcome book that can be shared with children, that tells them about you and any one who lives in your home, including pets. This helps reduce anxiety.

We will arrange for the foster carer of the child to speak with you about likes and dislikes and anything you need to know about. We will provide you with lots of information and prepare you in advance.

Sometimes, foster carers arrange to transport children to a short break carer, sometimes the short break foster carers transport the children. In the event that you provide the transport, mileage costs are reimbursed.

You will be required to briefly record how the short break has gone and we will provide you with training on what to record and where. Short break foster carers often provide photos of activities as memories of the child’s stay with them, this is a great way to record the fun you will have.

Depending on how long the children stay with you, you will provide meals snacks and any treats. You may wish to consider in advance with the childs foster carer what activities might be enjoyed most and what other plans there may be already in place. Planning menus and activities with children are fun things to do. As you get to know the children well, you will have a better idea of what they like and dislike.

You will work closely with the childrens foster carers and the social work team to ensure everything is in the best interests of the child staying with you and you will be supported in any way you feel is required.

How will I be matched with a child or young person needing a short break?

It’s important that you feel comfortable in providing a short break for a child and feel able to build a long term relationship with them where possible. When you are approved to be a short break foster carer, we will look at children who may be requiring a break and identify what activities you might like to do with a young person, the age range of children you can support, and where you live in relation to a young person.

How do I become a short break carer?

Children who come into care are amongst the most vulnerable children in society. It’s essential that everyone involved in caring and supporting these children are rigorously checked and assessed as suitable before working with children. We support short break carers to understand the fostering system with specially developed training available so that you to feel a part of the professional team around our children.

You will be allocated an assessor, who will get to know you and members of your family who live with you. The assessment process involves you completing a full application form and our team then undertaking references on your behalf, including medical checks.

The assessment is very thorough but once approved, you will be matched with children that you will get to know well. You will then be involved in planning and providing short stays in your home.

What can I expect as a short break foster carer?

You will be paid a daily fostering allowance
You will be guided through every step of the assessment process
You will have access to 24 hour support from our friendly team
You will be invited to join in with our specialist training opportunities
You will be invited to our events and get to know our foster carers
You will feel part of a valued and respected team

How do I find out more about becoming a short break foster carer?

If you have availability to offer occasional weekends or time during school holidays for a fostered child to have a fun break with you, we would love to hear from you. We are looking for a variety of families, including single people to be able to offer short breaks in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Essex, and Hertfordshire.

Does this sound like you?

If so, you have come to the right place and could be the type of person our looked after children need. We are very keen to hear from people who want to foster or find out more about what it entails.

To get in touch you can call us on 01223 800420 or email us directly at

Alternatively fill in the form on the right and we’ll get back to you when it’s convenient.

How short break foster carers make a difference

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.