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3.8.16 Respite Policy for Foster Carers and Children Looked After


Supervision of Foster Carers Procedure

This is a new chapter for March 2012.


  1. Standards and Introduction
  2. Policy Objectives
  3. Respite for Carers
  4. Respite for Young People
  5. Procedure

1. Standards and Introduction

Standard 21.5; “Foster Carers are provided with breaks from caring as appropriate. These are planned to take into account the needs of any children placed.”

Volume 4 of the Guidance to the Children Act 1989 states that:

“The service should have a policy setting out the way in which it supports foster carers by providing practical support or breaks from caring to enable placements to continue”.

Lincolnshire County Council recognises that foster carers require additional support to promote stable placements. It enables foster carers to recharge their batteries and spend some dedicated time with their birth children. This support can be via the provision of practical supports, Placement Support Workers and respite care.

Respite care is provided within birth families by other family members and the ambition of the Council is to replicate this as far as possible by encouraging foster carers to identify their own support carers. For regular respite this will require the identified support carers to become approved as foster carers. Where this option is not available, respite will be provided by another foster carer. Where appropriate to do so, respite can also be provided within the child’s birth family.

2. Policy Objectives

Respite should be considered to be in the best interests of both the child looked after and the Foster carer family. The following are desirable outcomes:

  • Respite provision is likely to enhance placement stability;
  • Respite will be provided by carers known to the child;
  • Respite should, wherever possible, be with a consistent carer;
  • Respite should be planned and of a frequency that supports the individual child’s Care Plan.

3. Respite for Carers

All permanent foster carers will be provided with 14 nights respite per year unless the Care Plan recognises that additional periods are required.

For task centred carers, it is anticipated that leave can be taken between placements. However where a child’s placement continues beyond the anticipated duration, 14 days respite will be available. Foster carers will be paid for the initial 3 days of any respite period.

For all children the experience of a family holiday is recognised as valuable and support respite care should be only used on a limited basis for holiday periods.

It will be for carers to determine how they want to take respite either for weekends or a longer holiday period.

It is acknowledged that at points of crisis within the placement and for urgent personal reasons, planned respite may not always be possible

4. Respite for Young People

In the same way, respite can be beneficial to the young person placed. As part of their Care Plan, it may be agreed that this can be provided within their birth family, the foster carers extended family or via a specific holiday. The nature of the respite will vary but should be considered within the carer planning and delegated authority processes. These processes must also consider the importance of the young person having a passport, an item which may be required as part of the respite process.

5. Procedure

For some carers, a family member or friend will have been identified in the assessment process. If they are to provide regular respite, they will require approval as foster carers,

All other requests for respite are processed by the Fostering Duty desk. Placements are matched in the usual way to and requests should be made by the Supervising Social Worker in good time to ensure the best chance of matching.

The duty desk has a number of foster carers specifically approved for respite. However, at times of excess demand, respite can be provided by task centred carers.

Respite carers should be provided with essential detail about the young person and the Placement Plan must be completed.