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6.1.14 Short Break Care for Children in Foster Care

REGULATIONS AND CHAPTERS

See also Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011 Regulation 42, and Fostering National Minimum Standards 2011, 2.5, 2.7, 9, 12, 21.

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter is based on Regulation 42 of the Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011 and Standard 21 of the National Minimum Standards for Fostering 2011.

RELATED CHAPTERS

Supervision and Support of Foster Carers Procedure

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in August 2016. An amendment was made in Section 3, Short Breaks for Children over the Age of 3 Years, when foster carers require a break a request should be made via referral to the Fostering Support Service. If agreed, the referral form should be completed and submitted to the weekly Resource Panel for consideration. Introductions to short breaks either at the Adolescent Support Unit or foster care should be planned allowing sufficient time for the appropriate information to be shared and for risk assessments to be completed.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Short Breaks for Carers of Children Under the Age of 3 Years
  3. Short Breaks for Children over the Age of 3 Years


1. Introduction

Blackburn with Darwen Council Fostering Services recognises that some carers will require additional support through the provision of short break care and other community based resources to promote stable and secure placements.

Some Looked After children demonstrate a range of behaviours that can threaten the stability of, or lead to the disruption of, foster placements. In birth families there is often the opportunity for children to have short breaks with members of the extended family. This is more difficult where children are Looked After, as often children cannot be cared for by extended family members and friends of foster carers.

Where short break care is provided, it should be primarily considered to be in the best interest of the child. The following outcomes should be the motivating factor for requesting a short break:

  • It is likely to increase the stability of the placement;
  • It will enable the carers to provide continuity of care;
  • It will provide the child with further opportunities which will improve their life chances.


2. Short Breaks for Carers of Children Under the Age of 3 Years

Carers for children under the age of 3 years should not receive short break care. This is based on the recognised importance of the first three years of a child, as the time when attachments are formed. Already many children under this age will have experienced unsettled and disruptive patterns of care.

In exceptional circumstances foster carers can request short break care e.g. if there is a family bereavement or sickness in the family.

If carers are experiencing extreme difficulties in caring for children under the age of 3 years they should discuss the circumstances with their supervising social worker to ascertain what other forms of support may be appropriate.


3. Short Breaks for Children over the Age of 3 Years

In the main carers are encouraged to take young people on holiday with them in recognition that these are very positive experiences for young children which can often cement their sense of belonging to foster families.

Where a particularly challenging young person is placed then short break care can be built into the Placement Plan or agreed at a review as in the best interests of the child and as a strategy likely to enable the placement to be sustained.

Where disabled children who have significant additional care needs are placed with foster carers it is also recognised that the carers may need a break. This can be provided in a range of ways utilising the sitting service, Apple Trees short break unit or other foster carers. The resource to be used would be agreed as part of the Care Plan and the family linked to a specific service or carer for continuity.

There is recognition that busy foster carers may require a break from fostering from time to time. When this is the case the carer must discuss their plans with the supervising social worker and the child’s social worker to determine whether a request should be made via referral to the Fostering Support Service. If agreed, the referral form should be completed and submitted to the weekly Resource Panel for consideration. Introductions to short breaks either at the Adolescent Support Unit or foster care should be planned allowing sufficient time for the appropriate information to be shared and for risk assessments to be completed.

Payments to foster carers would generally cease when children are not in placement however, in specific circumstances there may be some payment. This should be agreed at the payment panel. Those circumstances may include where a carer has been managing a particularly challenging situation for a prolonged period of time.

End