What is Family Link?
The Family Link scheme provides a “short break” service for children and young people with a disability living in the Bath and North East Somerset area. These children/young people have been assessed by Children’s Services as likely to benefit from the service.
Children/young people are ‘linked’ with approved carers who offer either:
daytime - including after school/evening; Saturday/Sunday and school holidays. This may include going out on trips or attending community activities. Family Link is usually based in the carer’s home.
overnight stays -for one night, a weekend or a few days.
Why Family Link?
The short breaks and support which Family Link provides are designed to benefit the whole family. The scheme can provide families with a break, as well as a chance for the child/young person to join in things they might enjoy; they will also have a chance of meeting new friends from outside their school or family circle.
We can link children/young people of all ages and who have a variety of needs.
Who can become a Family Link carer?
We need all kinds of people – you can be single or with a partner, with or without children, of working age or retired and from any religious, cultural or ethnic background. We are looking for people who would enjoy caring for a child/young person with a disability for a short time; who have energy, common sense and patience. You can either have experience or a willingness to learn.
How do I become a Family Link carer?
Phone 01225 394949, we will answer any questions you may have and send you all the relevant material you may require.
We will be happy to visit your home for an initial discussion about the scheme. If you would like to become a Family Link carer, you will then participate in a thorough assessment process, the same as any foster carer. for more information please see our how to foster in six steps section.
A social worker from the Family Placement Team will make a series of visits, which will include talking to other members of your household. They aim to get to know you and help you decide which children/young people you would be able to support. You will also be expected to attend a preparation course, which will include important information about Family Link and disabled children/young people. These courses are usually held on Saturdays. We will also ask you to contribute to a report, which will be considered by a panel.
The whole process will take between four to six months, after which we hope to link you with a child/young person who needs your support. After being approved as a Family Link carer you will be offered ongoing training, which we encourage you to attend.
Support for Family Link Carers
Each Family Link carer is allocated a Family Link social worker. The role of this worker is to identify appropriate links with children/young people and make sure this runs smoothly, by offering ongoing supervision and support. We also run support groups on a quarterly basis, visit you regularly at home and provide some equipment for undertaking Family Link. You will receive an allowance and expenses for all sessions undertaken.
What happens once you are approved?
The amount of work you do for the scheme will be entirely up to you –some people do a great deal (several sessions per week), whilst other people do just one or two per month. As part of your assessment we will discuss your preferences.
Links with children/young people are always made through the socail worker responsible for Family Link. You will be provided with full information about a child/young person to enable you to consider a potential link, before meeting them or their family and before making a commitment. Once everyone is happy then a written agreement is made which includes the number of sessions, types of activities and other practical details. You will be expected to keep written records about your Link placements.
Ongoing support will be provided as it is for all foster carers, please see our support pages for more information, with extra training linked to disability.
Introduction to the scheme
Fundamental to the successful fostering of children in care is the quality of support provided to foster carers. R2K offers periods of respite and support for Bath & North East Somerset foster carers by providing a variety of group activities and events throughout the year for the children in their care; day and overnight trips during the school holidays as well as week-long summer holidays. Individual work can also be considered for specific young people – who either cannot manage group settings or when specific carers need additional support.
“There are many aspects of support provided that is very beneficial for carers but I particularly like R2K, it provides so many benefits to both the children and carer.”
-B&NES foster carer
"The R2K Co-ordinator and team offer 100% support to carers and young people, with days out and holidays for children in BANES care."
-B&NES foster carer
Who is eligible to access R2K?
The scheme can be accessed by all Bath & North East Somerset foster carers. Birth children of foster carers are also eligible (if they live within the fostering household). Alongside providing respite for foster carers R2K provides new opportunities for children and young people in are to interact with their peer group. Events are supervised by highly skilled staff who will understand some of the challenges that they face.
R2K is a fully inclusive project where careful planning and close liaison with Bath & North East Somerset foster carers and young people ensures that the needs are met of anyone wishing to attend. If a child or young person feels unable to attend the activity the R2K coordinator will use their knowledge and links with other providers to work alongside the foster carers and young person to maximise the opportunity for a suitable alternative respite arrangement.
Who has responsibility for R2K?
The overseer for the effectiveness of the project sits with the team manager of the Family Placement Team. On a day-to-day basis the project is run by the R2K coordinator; based within the Family Placement Team. The coordinator is supported by a team of sessional workers.
The R2K coordinator is responsible for the recruitment, training and supervision of sessional workers.
The team consists of a wide variety of highly skilled individuals from all backgrounds including education, youth and children’s services workers, who are experienced in working with children and young people. Every sessional worker holds a current CRB/DBS check and is required to attend annual training tailored to their unique role. In addition to this, sessional workers have an annual appraisal – offering opportunity to reflect and comment on R2K as a service, as well as their own performance. This input is invaluable in continually improving the service offered. Sessional workers are committed to the project and have long-standing relationships with attendees. This continuity is central to the success of the project.
Staffing ratios are assessed for each activity, based on the number of young people and their individual and group needs – to ensure an appropriate level of support.
R2K organises activities one day a week during all school holidays from Easter to October half-term for children and young people aged 5 - 17. In addition to these days, there is an opportunity for a week long residential holiday for children aged 8 – 16 years.
From time to time family days are organised, when carers and children under 5 years are also invited.
A few sessional workers are also able to offer baby-sitting services for which foster carers pay an hourly rate. Foster carers appreciate the opportunity to employ someone equipped to deal with situations which might arise and who the children have already met.
Quotes From Our Children on R2K
"I have made good freinds and had fun"
"I did all of the activities and encouraged everyone else and made a new friend"
"Thank you so much for giving me such a great day out on Wednesday. I really enjoyed my day and was very appreciative of the way everyone took care of me."
The current R2K coordinator is Becky Brown. She has held the post for 8 years and the scheme has developed under her leadership. Prior to joining the Family Placement Team Becky worked in the teaching profession and has a sound knowledge of young people, with a commitment to giving opportunities to achieve, enjoy healthy activities and raise their self- esteem.
A Staying Put arrangement is where a young person who has been living in foster care remains in the former foster home after the age of 18.
The intention of Staying Put arrangements is to ensure that young people can remain with their former foster carers until they are prepared for adulthood, can experience a transition akin to their peers, avoid social exclusion and be more likely to avert a subsequent housing and tenancy breakdown.
For a young person living in foster care, the first Looked after Review following his or her 16th birthday should consider whether a Staying Put arrangement should be an option. This will entail assessing the implications for both the young person and the foster carer.
For more information please contact The Family Placement team on 01225 394949
Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children
If you would like to know about fostering Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children please see this page.