West Sussex County Council is inviting people to find out more about being a short break carer at an open evening in Crawley next month.
The drop-in evening is open to all prospective carers and takes place on Tuesday October 1, from 4.30pm to 7pm, at Crawley Library in Southgate Avenue.
Caring for a child or young person with a disability can be extremely demanding, so sharing the care – even for a short time – can make an enormous difference.
Short breaks give children and young people planned periods of care away from their families for a few hours leading to overnight stays, and cover day care or respite for foster carers when needed.
They help children spend time away from their families, helping them develop independence, gain confidence and enjoy a wider social network.
It also gives families the chance to do many things others take for granted, such as spending quality time with their other children or simply being able to shop without the anxiety of having to cope with wheelchairs.
Wendy, from the Horsham area, has been a short break carer for around 13 years.
She said: “We have two daughters who both have learning disabilities and I know how important things like this are for families.
“It gives the child a chance to broaden their experiences by spending time with different people and it provides parents with the chance to spend time with their other children, or have time together as a couple.
“To be part of that is fantastic and it’s has been as beneficial to our family. You can learn a lot yourself and it’s been an experience for the whole family – our daughters are as much a part of it as we are.”
Peter Evans, County Council Cabinet Member for Children – Start of Life, added: “Short break carers, like Wendy, make a huge difference to the lives of so many families in West Sussex.
“Caring for a child or young person with a disability can be incredibly demanding.
“It isn’t easy but short breaks give children the chance to take part in activities that non-disabled children often take for granted – as well as giving parents and siblings a break from the demands of caring.
“It is extremely worthwhile and I would encourage anyone who may be considering becoming a short break carer to pop along to the open evening in Crawley. It could really change your life.”
A comprehensive training programme, which includes how to care for a specific child’s needs, is provided for short break carers. On-going support is also available. Short break carers are paid either for overnight stays or an hourly rate if care is during the day.
To find out more about becoming a short break carer, visit the website at www.westsussex.gov.uk/fosteringshortbreaks or call the Fostering Recruitment Team on 01403 229333.