Wiltshire Council run a short break care scheme called Family Link.
It's different to regular fostering as it is part-time.
Most of the children who we need to find short break care for have learning disabilities, although others have physical disabilities and complex medical conditions requiring structured health routines.
- Family link carers provide care in their own homes for disabled children usually during weekends and school holidays, although care can also be required after school or at other times
- It is not a full time role but it is essential that carers are able to make a firm commitment to a regular pattern of care
- You don’t need any special qualifications or previous experience to be a Family Link carer with us, but you do need plenty of common sense, patience, a willingness to learn, a good sense of humour and the flexibility to adapt to different situations
- Families who are bringing up a child with disabilities often find it very difficult to have time for themselves
- Family Link care offers everyone in the family a rest from their caring role and time to relax and recharge and gives a disabled child an important new experience
- It's a regular arrangement which enables the carer to build a relationship with the child’s family
- You must be aged 18 or over and you must have the time, space and energy to make a regular commitment to the child who is matched with you
- Family link is often a long term obligation with a very specific remit and is not designed to be an introduction to full-time fostering, though some family link carers do also foster
- You need to have the motivation and dedication to meet the needs of disabled children, and also to be able to meet the other requirements of the task such as report writing and attending meetings
- Carers receive a financial allowance for the time that a child is with them
- This is designed to cover the basic costs of caring for the child while they are with you, but it is an ‘allowance’ not a ‘payment’, so under normal circumstances it does not affect your position regarding tax
- As a family link carer you benefit from having access to a range of training opportunities that are free to you. These will range from specific ‘on-the-job’ training regarding the care of a particular child, to training days around a whole variety of relevant topics
- You will also benefit from a professional support network which will include your own family link social worker who will visit you regularly and help to set-up and maintain your placements and offer you advice and guidance and practical support
- As well as this regular face-to-face support, there is always emergency help available 24 hours a day, every day should you need it
- You will be given free membership to both the Fostering Network and the Short Breaks Network, both of which are specialist support and information organisations to help foster carers and family link carers
- You will be able to join our carers online social networking group and will also receive our regular carers newsletters
- If you think you could care for a disabled child for short periods to give a local family a break or just want to know more - we would love to hear from you. You can call us on 0800 169 6321 or email us at email@example.com
- We will guide you through a process to make sure it is right for you, your family and the child
- The whole process normally takes between four and six months
- What happens next? to find out more about the process involved