Frequently asked questions about Specialist Respite Care

Questions we are asked about becoming a Specialist Respite Carer

Do I need a spare room

Yes, this is an essential requirement. In Hampshire we believe that looked after children who are fostered must have their own bedroom as we think it is important that they have their own space.

Do I need childcare experience

Yes, we are looking for foster carers who have some form of childcare experience personal or professional, caring for children or young adults with a disability. However, our team can suggest organisations across Hampshire to gain some experience.

Am I too old or too young to foster

We consider anyone over the age of 21 (there is no upper age limit). But we do ask that you are generally fit and healthy. Each application is considered individually.

Can I be a Specialist Respite Carer if I work full time

Yes, especially as the Specialist Respite Care scheme is mainly 'offered respite' at weekends.

Can I be a Specialist Respite Carer if I am renting or in council housing

Yes, providing you have a spare room and the written permission of your landlord.

Can I be a Specialist Respite Carer if I am single

We welcome applications from single people and have a large number of single male and female Specialist Respite Carers in Hampshire.

Does it matter if I have an ongoing health condition

Not necessarily. We do ask that you are generally fit and healthy and you will be asked to have a medical examination with your GP as part of the Specialist Respite Care assessment. We do not discriminate against anyone who has general health issues or disabilities but we do need to know how this might impact on your parenting of a child and what extra support you might need.

Can I be a Specialist Respite Carer if I smoke/vape

If you smoke tobacco or you vape, you will not be able to look after a child aged under five, or a child of any age with any health conditions or disabilities. If you are an ex-smoker, you will need to evidence that you have given up for at least 12 months before we can proceed with assessment.

What if someone in the household has a criminal record

If you or a member of your household has had a criminal record it will not necessarily stop you from becoming a Specialist Respite Carer. It depends on what the conviction was for and when the offence was committed, so please discuss this with us. We undertake a check with the Police (known as a Disclosure and Barring Service check) with all our applicants and all criminal records and cautions will be disclosed.

What if I have a debt

We will look at your financial situation during the assessment process as you’ll need to be financially secure.

Can I be a Specialist Respite Carer if I am in the Armed Forces

Yes you can.

Our assessment and training process requires both partners to attend. However, we do understand that at times, deployment may affect joint attendance to meetings and preparation. We will take this into consideration, and try our best to come up with a plan that accommodates this.

Can I be a Specialist Respite Carer if I have my own children

Yes, lots of our Specialist Respite Carers have their own children and many looked after children really benefit from being in a family environment. All members of your household will be considered during the assessment, and we will need to take into account the wishes and feelings of your child/children and ensure if it’s right for them too. We will always carefully consider your children when looking at which children to place in your home.

Do I need to be able to drive

No, not necessarily, but it is an advantage with supporting a child and also when attending the child’s planning meetings.

Can I be a Specialist Respite Carer if I have pets

Yes, of course! We consider any pets you have as part of the assessment process.

What about people having fertility treatment or counselling

We recognise that the process of fertility treatment can be an emotional rollercoaster and it takes time to adjust to the news about your fertility problems and the plans you had to start a family. If you have recently received fertility treatment or have experienced a miscarriage then we will discuss this with you and look at your individual circumstances to see if you are ready to start the fostering process.

What income and allowances will I receive

An allowance is paid to Specialist Respite Carers once a placement has been agreed.

What support will I have as a Specialist Respite Carer

All Specialist Respite Carers approved by Hampshire’s Children’s Services are allocated a social worker to support them and provide advice and guidance.

As a Specialist Respite Carer providing care for a child with a disability, you would have access to additional training and support to enable you to understand the child’s needs and how they can be met, including the support of professionals who work with the family and the child.

If any equipment is required to support your role as a Specialist Respite Carer, this would be provided through the Children’s Occupational Therapy Team.

Specialist Respite Care for children with additional needs is an approach which promotes the relationship between the Specialist Respite Carer and the family, and allows for some flexibility in how and when a Specialist Respite Carer supports the child and family.

What if someone in the household has a criminal record

When we talk to you about a possible ‘match’ with a child who has a disability, we will always take into consideration both the child’s needs and yours.

We first carry out a detailed inspection and assessment of your home. We will check to see if your home is safe and can accommodate for example, a wheelchair or someone that needs assistance getting in and out of your home. They may need help with sitting at a table to eat or going to the toilet. 

Depending on what is required, we will talk to you about whether you wish or can make any modifications to your home.

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