All Foster Carers need rest from time to time due to the stress involved in looking after young people. This is generally referred to as respite and is an important tool to protecting both your physical and mental health. Sometimes Fostering can become stressful and it’s better for Foster Carers to ask for respite rather than struggle if a placement is difficult, rather than risk the placement breaking down. So, if you are feeling that you need a break, talk to your Supervising Social Worker and talk about respite. There are Foster Carers who focus on respite care and most well organised agencies, such as Fostering UK, will have specific carers who will provide that facility for you. Obviously the young person has to be taken into consideration and the fact that it can be unsettling for them to be moved too often. This will be weighed up by your Supervising Social Worker and will be part of the discussion around respite. So how long can respite be? It can be a couple of days or a couple of weeks depending on what your requirements are. If possible the agency will try to organise respite with the same respite carer so that the young person has the stability even when away from you, their main carer. It is important that respite is carefully planned and should generally take place at weekend or school holidays so disruption is kept to a minimum for the young placement. In some cases the change of scenery can actually be beneficial for the young person and this will reflect when the young person returns.

As a respite carer you are not committing to 24/7 care for a young person but you are still helping make a difference. You will still go through the same training as other carers and the same assessment. If you are unable to foster full time then becoming a respite Foster Carer could be the answer. Other types of fostering include short term fostering and disability fostering. Short term fostering can be anything from overnight to up to a year or maybe two. This style of Foster Carer can be ideal for people who would prefer not to commit to long term care for a young person, for whatever reason, and, once again, you will go through the same training and assessment as all other Foster Carers. Disability carers are, to me, real heroes. Looking after young people with disabilities is difficult in any circumstances so I have nothing but admiration for any Foster Carer who decides to specifically volunteers to look after young people with disabilities. I know a number of such Foster Carers and have witnessed, first hand, the amount of work it involves with endless hospital appointments and occasional medical intervention. Disabilities also include learning difficulties and that, as well, leads to intervention by many other medical and specialist professionals. As if fostering isn’t difficult enough. So deciding what type of fostering is something to think about before you take the plunge. What suits your life style and your family environment? This discussion is best had with your chosen agency and the assessor who takes you through your initial assessment (form F). Personally I never nailed my colours to any specific type of fostering. I was happy to take any placement, and have experienced long and short term placements, disability and emergency placements and enjoyed every single one of them.

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