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Respite care’s pivotal role in foster carer recruitment

In the vast landscape of fostering, respite care often finds itself overshadowed by its more prominent counterparts.
John-Paul Atley

John-Paul Atley

3 minute read
April 11, 2024
In the vast landscape of fostering, respite care often finds itself overshadowed by its more prominent counterparts.
Respite care’s pivotal role in foster carer recruitment Image

But this valuable form of care is quietly serving as a gateway, offering a unique opportunity for individuals and families to dip a toe into the world of fostering without the pressure of a more permanent or full-time commitment.

As a respite foster carer myself, I’ve seen the pivotal role respite care can play in expanding the pool of foster carers. It’s an area we’re already exploring at Eleven through our work with Now Foster.

Here are the ways in which we think this often overlooked form of care is set to transform foster carer recruitment…


A softer introduction

The choice to become a foster carer isn’t a snap decision. It’s a huge commitment and one that can feel overwhelming for so many. Becoming a respite carer is a much gentler entrance to the world of fostering as it allows individuals to experience firsthand what it’s like to welcome a young person into your heart and home. This lower commitment introduction feels less daunting and can play a huge part in paving the way for deeper involvement further down the line.


Trying it on for size

While fostering is an immensely rewarding role, it’s also very demanding. It’s not simply about providing a spare room – it’s a profound commitment to offer a sanctuary of safety and stability to young people who’ve not had it easy. Being a respite carer enables prospective foster carers to gauge their own ability to provide care and meet the needs of vulnerable young people. This experience will give them valuable insight into their strengths and potential areas for growth, helping them to make informed decisions about whether they pursue fostering in the long term.



Unlike traditional fostering, which requires a fairly significant long-term commitment, respite care offers much more flexible arrangements for carers. You can choose when and how long you provide care for, based on your availability and preferences. As someone who’s lucky enough to benefit from Eleven’s flexible and hybrid working policy, I’m able to comfortably pair my full-time job (which I do from home three days a week) with my commitments as a respite foster carer.


Respite care offers a compelling entry point for those considering fostering but nervous about the level of commitment. By recognising the inherent value of respite care in the fostering system and implementing targeted recruitment strategies, local authorities can expand and diversify the pool of potential foster carers.


If you found this blog interesting, why not check out our recent fostering campaign with Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

If you’re interested in exploring respite fostering, get in touch with your local authority to find out more.