Short Breaks Foster care is a temporary placement while future plans for the child / young person(s) are confirmed. A placement can last from a few days to a few months.
But how does this all work in reality? We spoke to one of our foster carers Jane on her experiences (the name Harvey has been created to protect the child’s identity).
Jane and Mark with their Progress Supervisor Social Worker: Michelle
Why Short breaks fostering?
My name is Jane. My partner Mark and I are approved Progress short break foster carers; specialising in children who have profound disabilities and challenging behaviours.
Short breaks fostering gives families or a parent without a support network a chance to recharge their batteries.
There are many reasons why a family or parent may need this kind of support. For Harvey’s mum, it was because of her need for a monthly break. With Harvey’s diagnosis of Syngap1, she had a lot to deal with, especially being on her own.
Whether you are a birth parent or carer, a problematic home environment can be very stressful without a break. So, as a short breaks foster carer, we give them support when they need it most.
There is no time limit for short breaks fostering. It can last a day, a weekend, or sometimes a week or more. The duration all depends on the needs of the family.
Our first visitor was Harvey
Despite Harvey being small and angelic looking, he was a perplexed and angry little five-year-old.
Harvey’s mum loved him dearly, but needed help. She contacted Progress and then their fostering team contacted us.
After his first visit, we were exhausted. Having gone through 48 hours with only two hours’ sleep, Mark and I really questioned ourselves as to whether we could carry on. Harvey had great difficulty sleeping, which was mainly due to his inability to self-regulate.
However, over the next five years, my partner and I became very attached to Harvey. We found him endearing and a lot of fun to be with. You learn to adapt to a child’s needs. There were times Harvey could not deal with new people being brought into the house, so all visitors were banned when he was here. That was just how things had to be – he had to be put first.
So, how did we cope?
My partner and I developed our own strategies. Generally, this involved lots of exercising and fresh country air. Get something that works for you as it will pay dividends for your well-being and ultimately, for the child or young person you’re caring for.
Coming to an end
Harvey’s mum met a new partner and got married. The wedding day was special. We took Harvey to a country hotel and dressed him in a full wedding suit, including tail and cravat. I held Harvey’s hand as he led the wedding party up the aisle.
All the family and friends commented on how well he had coped with the day. As we left the wedding venue, my partner and I felt a lot of emotion. We were so happy Harvey was there for his mum.
We stopped caring for Harvey at aged 10. His mum was managing better, as she had the support from her new partner.
We look back on the five years we supported and cared for Harvey as a pleasure.
Ready to make that first step? Click here to find out how you can become a short breaks foster carer.