WEST Sussex County Council is on the search for more short break carers to help disabled children and their families.
The county council says there is a real need for more short break carers – caring for a child or young person with a disability is demanding, so sharing the care, even for a short time, can make a real difference.
Share the Care Week, running from March 19 to 25, is run by the Short Break Network and raises awareness of the need for short break carers across the country.
Short breaks give children and young people planned periods of care away from their families or foster carers. This can be for a few hours during the day, to overnight stays.
They help children to spend time away from their families and develop independence, gain confidence and have a wider social network.
Equally, it gives families the chance to spend quality time with their other children, and have time to do many things others take for granted, for example shop without the anxiety of having to cope with wheelchairs.
West Sussex couple Ant and Ruth Stewart have been short break carers for six years, and find it a very enriching experience.
Ant said: “It’s very rewarding for us and our two children. We have children stay for anything from a weekend to up to a week.
“The idea is that the child becomes part of our family while they are with us. We tailor their stays accordingly and visit local attractions, go for a walk or boating, and often ten-pin bowling or to the cinema.
“Short breaks give families that little bit of space to help keep their lives running smoothly. Families need some additional support no matter how great they are, and we can help with that.”
Cabinet Member for Children and Families Peter Evans said: “Short break carers come from a range of ages and backgrounds. The one quality they all share is a love of working with children.
“Making a positive difference to someone’s life is extremely rewarding. Short break carers give children the chance to take part in activities that non-disabled children take for granted, and give parents a break from the demands of caring.”
Short break carers have access to a comprehensive training programme, which includes how to care for a specific child’s needs, and receive ongoing support. They are paid either for overnight stays or an hourly rate if care is during the day.
The county council runs monthly fostering drop in sessions across West Sussex. It’s a chance for people to find out more about becoming a short break carer, or the many other fields of fostering.
To find out more about becoming a short break carer, visit the website at www.westsussex.gov.uk/fosteringshortbreaks.
To find out about the monthly fostering drop in sessions, visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/fostering or contact the Fostering Recruitment Team on 01403 229333.