Short Break Foster Carers previously called Respite Foster Carers are an essential part of the Moon and Back team. The Foster Carers that provide this type of care can be the glue needed to support families to be whole again and for foster carers to succeed in their role.
We know that life can be challenging, but when coupled with the balancing of the stresses of day-to-day family life, there is no wonder that we all require a break from time to time, to re-charge our batteries and have some time to do what makes us feel good. We provide the opportunity for our foster carers to have short breaks. Some like to have these regularly and some just every now and again. Having a short break, can make a difference, not only for a child or young person’s life, but the lives of birth families and foster families too.
It’s possible to provide regular short breaks for a child who lives with their own family and we work as we would with any foster carer to ensure that if this is desirable, that a short break carer is well matched. We take our matching of foster carers to children very seriously, its important that we work together as a team, so we actively involve foster carers, short break or otherwise in the matching process, as it is in everyone’s interest that it is a successful relationship.
Our short break foster carers, so often provide opportunities for the same children so over time this enables them to really get to know the children and the children to get to know them.
Typically, when providing weekend breaks, children are in school on the Friday. Children may come straight from school on Friday, carers sometimes collect them, or their long term foster carers drive them to the short break carers home. Either way, it is usually a time for the child to unpack their belongings and get settled in their room and play some games, maybe after dinner, watching a film or going for a walk and then preparing for going to bed. The children usually stay on the Saturday night too and return home Sunday afternoon, ready for the rest of their new week. Providing opportunities to have fun, maybe a priority, but this is always thought about well ahead and is planned to be in the best interests of the child.
We look to enable a great time during short breaks, but its also important to understand what the child is returning to, once home, as we want the whole short break to add to a child’s life and not make it more difficult. Its important to manage a child’s expectations and support the foster carers caring for a child long term. We help short break foster carers as part of the development and training plan.
Its really nice to provide some records of the short break, with photos that the children can take away with them, or can be uploaded into the childs file which we add to as part of their documentary record of life whilst being fostered. Short breaks are usually happy memory making opportunities.
Our short break foster carers are prepared and have information well in advance to help them ensure that meals and activities planned, are what the child will really enjoy, so that the children can settle and everyone can feel relaxed.
One of our regular short break carers, has latterly provided opportunities for siblings who are not living together, to be able to have regular fun short breaks all together. on a regular basis. The short break carers fulfil a huge role in this provision. We support by co-ordinating updates on the children and ensuring that their long-term carers prepare the clothes packing for activities that are planned, the carers talk together and become an extended part of the fostering family around the child. Cinema, swimming, adventures, cooking and crafting are amongst some of the favourite activities, but what’s nice is that they get to do fun things with the kids on a regular basis.
Some of our regular short break foster carers work full or part time alongside fostering. There are times when they are not free to provide a short break. We work closely to plan as far ahead as we can.
Short break provision is such an important part of fostering as we have highlighted earlier, it supports foster carers to get time out and re-charge their batteries. This helps foster carers to continue the fabulous work they do to support children who have experienced neglect or abuse, over time to help them to come to terms with what has happened to them. Research shows that part of the healing from the trauma experienced by children who are abused or neglected, comes from the close and meaningful relationships with adults. Short break carers who are able to create meaningful trusting relationships with children in their care, will help them tremendously to prepare for their future relationships as they learn to trust again and although caring for only a short time, could well be the influence that a child remembers for their lifetime.
We encourage short break foster carers to join us at local events and training, so that they feel a close part of the agency team and get to know the foster carers and the children they are likely to be able to help in the future. This helps everyone to feel more relaxed. We have communities of foster families in a variety of areas and we support short break carers to be feel a part of that community too.
Our short break foster carers see their role as rewarding and an opportunity to enable 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 needed for a child/family who are feeling in crisis and they need a therapeutic space to make them feel safe and secure. For foster carers wishing to learn more about providing this type of care, we provide development on trauma and how to best support a child. Our short break foster carers feed back that they feel supported themselves by the team as there is always someone available to chat anything through, 24 hours a day.
One of our foster carers had started as a short break foster carer and loved it so much that they became full time foster carers and now provide children with longer term fostering support. There are possibilities to consider other types of fostering too.
If you would like more information about short break fostering get in touch…