Specialist Respite Care

Fostering services for children with disabilities

The Specialist Respite Care scheme, is a family based approach to supporting children with disabilities and their families. The scheme is designed to offer children and families the chance to have some weekend respite on a regular basis. It is available to children with autism, learning disabilities, medical and physical disabilities.

The level of care is agreed through careful matching and discussions between the family, their child and their Social Worker.

What is Specialist Respite Care

All families have different requirements, so the care we ask our specialist foster carers to undertake, varies depending on the child’s and family’s needs.  This can include:

  • care and support at home; a few hours to a weekend
  • overnight care at home or in the carer’s home
  • taking children to day activities and play schemes

Specialist Respite Carers provide regular support for children and families. The Fostering Team and the Disabled Children’s Team, work closely together to match children with Specialist Respite Carers. Once a match is made, introductions between the carer, child’s parents, and the child, take place to gradually build a trusting relationship and rapport.

Who can be a Specialist Respite Carer

Specialist Respite Carers are foster carers, who based on their experience, specifically care and look after children with disabilities.

We are looking for individuals who have some form of childcare experience personal or professional, caring for children or young adults with a disability. Following assessment, full training and panel approval, you will become a registered foster carer.

See more questions we are asked about becoming a Specialist Respite Carer

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What is the assessment process

As with all applications to foster, we undertake several checks including police checks, employment references and a full medical. The assessment process takes, on average, four months and is made up of the following steps.

Initial visit

We will visit you at your home and tell you more about the role of a Specialist Respite Carer, answer any questions, explain the assessment process and learn more about you.

Skills to Foster

This is a three day training course which mainly takes place over consecutive Saturdays. It will include specific training and insights for looking after children with additional needs. This is an opportunity for you to decide if Specialist Respite Care is right for you.


  • An Assessing Social Worker will take you through the assessment process
  • You will be asked to attend pre-approval training to give you more in-depth insight into Specialist Respite Care and begin to prepare you for the task
  • Your Assessing Social Worker will write a detailed report, called a Form F, which will be shared with you

Hampshire Fostering Panel

At the end of the assessment, your report is presented to the Hampshire Fostering Panel, who will give a recommendation about your approval. You will be asked to attend this panel meeting, supported by your Assessing Social Worker. Once approved, you will be able to foster children in your own home.

Starting to foster

Once you are approved, you will be allocated a Supporting Social Worker who will help you during your Specialist Respite Carer career. As soon as you are approved we can place children with you.

How to apply to become a Specialist Respite Carer

You can call us on 0300 555 1384 during our office hours or use the enquiry form below.

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