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Part-time fostering: recruiting and supporting carers for short-break schemes

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Although most local authorities provide or commission home-based short-break services to support families with a disabled child, such schemes have been much slower to develop as a form of support for families where children are in need for reasons other than disability. June Statham and Margaret Greenfields draw on a study of barriers to the development of 'support care' schemes in England, focusing in particular on the motivation and experiences of those who undertake this part-time fostering work and the skills and support they require. Since childminders can now be registered to provide overnight care, and some already provide daytime care for children placed with them by social workers, the potential for childminders to expand their service into short-break care is also considered. The paper concludes that although local authorities have sometimes been reluctant to develop short-break schemes because they fear diverting potential carers from mainstream fostering, in practice such fears are not well founded. Support care schemes can offer a way for those who might be interested in fostering to 'dip a toe' in the water, as well as helping to retain existing foster carers who might otherwise leave the service. This kind of service also fits well with the current policy emphasis on early intervention to support children and families who are experiencing difficulties and on promoting flexibility in the social care workforce.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-09-01

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