Respite foster care is a fostering placement for a limited time only. A respite foster carer cares for a
child for a week or two at a time, for example during school holidays, or at weekends- this can be
the same child at regular intervals but also for a one-off to support another foster carer. Foster
carers who offer respite fostering generally look after children who are already cared for on a full
time basis by other foster carers or sometimes their birth parents. This respite period can benefit
both the foster carer and the child by giving some ‘respite’ or a short break from usual the duties of
care, particularly for children who have additional needs and challenging behaviours.
Why is respite fostering needed?
Respite fostering is required in a number of different circumstances. For example, a full time foster carer
may need a holiday or they may have urgent family commitments meaning they need to travel overseas.
Sometimes if a fostering placement is particularly challenging a fostering provider may arrange for them to
have a short break from the placement. This can also sometimes be the case with birth families, where a
child has a disability or a particularly challenging behavioural issue which means the parents are under
considerable pressure and would benefit from a break.
What is involved in respite fostering?
Respite fostering involves working closely with the full time carer who is usually responsible for the child.
It’s also important to reassure a child that the respite placement will only be for a short time period and that
they will be able to return to their usual home afterwards. This can often be a stressful period for a foster
child who may already be feeling the effects of previously disruptive changes.
What are the benefits of respite fostering?
Although respite fostering is not used as often as in the past (as much respite support is now offered by
approved back up carers, or foster care not needed due to changes in Direct Payments to parents/carers) it
can be extremely important to the well-being of many foster families. This is because this type of fostering
• Provide vital support to parents or long term foster carers
• Allow carers to enrich the lives of children or young people on a short term basis
• Have a huge impact on a child and a foster parent’s quality of life, giving the respite foster carer the
chance to make a real difference in the lives of both parties.
Most foster carers are not just approved as respite carers, but also for short-term placements. If you’d like
to know more about respite and short-term fostering, why not request a call back from our website? Or you
can find out other ways to contact us here.