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Changing Lives, Making a Difference

Could you be a short break carer for children and young people in North Ayrshire who require supportive and caring adults to provide essential support via weekend or midweek short breaks?  

North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership is looking to recruit and assess short break carers for children aged from birth to 16 years old who reside in the community with birth parents, as well as for children and young people who are placed with kinship carers.

This is an essential service to support children who are at risk of being looked after outwith their family, as well as families who are affected by child protection issues such as parental substance/alcohol use and/or neglect.

This is a vital service which helps to prevent families from reaching breaking point. The focus is on keeping families together and short breaks can often be a key mechanism in supporting existing family networks and preventing a child from coming into care.

The service offers support to children in kinship care placements, as well as children residing at home with their parents where it is assessed that short breaks are required to sustain children within their home or with their kinship carer.

The children who will require short breaks will have similar experiences to children in foster care and may have experienced adversity and trauma. We are seeking carers who can offer short breaks at weekends and midweek and who can build positive relationships with children/young people and provide them with a positive experience of short break care.

Throughout the process, any children will be carefully matched with the carer to ensure suitability. It is the aim of the service to ensure, as best as possible, that the same carer/child combination is maintained to build positive relationships, as short breaks could be on a regular basis.

The short breaks service offers crucial support to children and their families who find themselves in a variety of difficult circumstances. This might be grandparents who have become full time kinship carers for their grandchildren, parents who care for children with additional needs and might need a break, or parents with young children who have few supports. There are a vast range of reasons why families might need a bit of extra support. From previous research, and from feedback from children and families, both the child and their family benefit greatly from the service.

In keeping with the criteria for the Fostering Service, we require a household which has a spare bedroom and individuals who have the enthusiasm, skills and qualities necessary to care for a child and work closely and supportively with families. We also require carers to work closely with the children and their families, as well as the service, as this ensures the best possible outcomes.

The Short Break Service will be governed by the same policies and legislation as the Fostering Service and there will be requirements in relation to training, supervision and reviews of your approval as a short break carer. All training and support will be delivered to the highest standard, along with ongoing guidance to deliver a high quality service.


  • Applicants must be over 21 years old
  • Single applicants as well as couples are welcomed
  • Couples do not need to be married or in a civil partnership, but they must have lived together for a minimum of 2 years
  • Applicants do not have to be employed
  • Applicants do not need to own their own home
  • All applicants will be subject to local authority, health, employment and PVG checks

Frequently asked Questions

How many nights of short break will I need to offer?

This will depend on your availability and the assessed need of the children and young people. Some carers will provide short breaks to several children at different times during the week and weekends, however we would ideally like carers to provide at least one short break per month.

Can I remain in full time employment?

Yes, short break carers can remain in full time employment and any short breaks can be arranged around your work and availability.

Do I need a spare bedroom within my house to be a short break carer?

Yes, there is an expectation that any short break carers will have a spare bedroom that children can sleep in.

What support will I receive as a short break carer?

You will have a supervising social worker attached to you who will provide ongoing support and supervision in your role as an approved short break foster carer. This is a legal requirement under the looked after regulations.

Short break carers will also be entitled to an allowance for every period of overnight short breaks they provide and will be reimbursed for any mileage if collecting and dropping off children.

Will I need to attend any meetings?

There will be occasions when you will be asked to attend a meeting in relation to a review of your approval as a short break carer. These are called Foster Home Reviews or Fostering Panels.

There may also be occasions when you will be asked to contribute to meetings involving the children that you provide short breaks to. These could be a review of the short break service, child protection meetings or professionals/planning meetings involving the children.

What children will I support?

The short break service will carefully consider the matching of any children with your skills and experience and will discuss the children who require short breaks with you prior to any introduction.

Will I meet the children’s birth parents or kinship carers?

Yes, all short break carers will meet the children’s parents/carers during the introduction stage and there will be regular communication and partnership working.

Do I need qualifications and will I get paid?

You won’t need any formal qualifications, but you must have an interest in making a difference to a child’s life and have the ability to offer a nurturing and loving environment. You will receive an allowance for each child. For most carers, the main reward is knowing that they are helping a child.

How do I become a family based short break carer?

You can begin the process by contacting Families for Children Team at North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership.

Call 01294 323953 from 9am to 4.45pm, Monday to Thursday, and 9am to 4.30pm on Fridays. Alternatively, you can or email and someone will contact you to discuss further.

After your initial contact with us, there will an initial visit/screening to discuss further and then progress to the preparation group. You will then move to the assessment stage. It can take up to 6 months before you are assessed and approved at the fostering panel.

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