Share the care, make a difference

Share the Care (previously Family Link) carers provide regular short breaks to disabled children or young people including those with learning difficulties, autism and physical impairments. This type of fostering offers a long term relationship with a child or young person and their family. This scheme suits people who can offer short breaks and who feel positive about disabled children.

Sonya Miller, Head of Service Integrated Children's Services said: "Share the Care is a fantastic way of enabling young people with additional needs to have access to opportunities and supports their families at the same time, Share the Care carers find caring rewarding and are highly valued by young people and their families."

How it works
Share the Care carers come from all age groups and all walks of life. They are recruited and approved in the same way as other foster carers. Once approved, carers are carefully matched with a child/young person who is gradually introduced to them. If this goes well, a pattern of visits is agreed, perhaps an overnight stay every two or three weeks or a weekend each month. Share the Care carers receive payment, training and support through the Share the Care scheme and any requirement for special equipment will be assessed.

How much time will I need to give?
We ask that you are able to commit to at least one weekend a month on a regular basis. Some carers are linked with one child whilst others provide short breaks to more than one child. The amount of time you give to a child depends on the plan for the child and is agreed in advance.

What support will I receive?
A Family Placement social worker is there to offer advice, guidance and support to Share the Care carers. An induction programme will be arranged when you are approved and regular supervision and consultation is offered throughout your time as a Foster Carer.  All the children will have access to a social worker who can support them and work with their parents, family and Share the Care carers. This social worker is there to ensure that each child has a comprehensive child care plan to meet their current and future needs.

You will also have access to

•  Out of hours support – if you need support outside of office hours you can telephone the helpline
•  Buddying Scheme – you will be linked with an experienced carer who will be able to give advice and support in addition to that provided by your social worker
•  Foster Carers Support Group - an informal support network set up by local carers who meet regularly without social workers present
•  Financial Support – you will receive an allowance for each child or young person placed with them
•  Special Equipment - Additional equipment you need to help you care for the child or young person you are linked with can be provided on a loan basis: for example things like beds, bedding, car seats, smoke alarms and stair gates

Christine takes on the role of a Share the Care Carer one day a week in the school holidays and every other Saturday during school term.   She has been a Share the Care carer for South Gloucestershire Council for the past 12 years.

Christine said: “The aim is to support disabled children with physical or learning difficulties to extend their social networks and enable them to gain access to community resources whilst providing parents with a break from their own caring responsibilities and a chance to focus on the needs of other family members.”

“My whole family has benefited and they are much more aware of children who have learning difficulties. We have learnt to accommodate these children into our family life and we provide an extension to their social life.  This can be simple things like going for a walk in the park, to going bowling, a trip to Weston-Super-Mare, Blaise Castle or a day trip to Bath.”

“It gives the children’s family a break and they can have peace of mind knowing that there with me and therefore they can think about other things they want to do for the day and spend more time with other family members.”

Christine says she has been able to make a career out of supporting other children and their families, adding: “I started as a childminder, then got in to being a nursery nurse and then got involved as a Share the Care carer through the council. And my interest in looking after young people with special needs must have rubbed off because my daughter is now studying learning disability nursing at university.”

Interested in finding out more?

If you have been inspired by Christine's story and you think you could welcome a child into your home we'd love to hear from you.  Join us at one of our Fostering Information Sessions.  Or if you would like further information, please fill in our Online Enquiry Form, call the Fostering Team on 01454 866423 or email fostering@southglos.gov.uk