Shared care scheme for children

Apply to become a shared carer


The Shared Care Scheme for children provides short breaks for children with disabilities and a rest for parents, by linking them with a local shared carer who can care for children on a regular basis.

Valuable support and friendships are also discovered by everyone taking part. The Scheme currently has over twenty carers, linked with more than thirty children. 

How the scheme works

Shared Care provides the family with respite from the stresses and strains of caring for a disabled child, providing parents with the opportunity to spend time with their other children or to have a good night’s sleep.

It helps the child gain:

  • new interests
  • friendships and experiences
  • independence skills
  • an enjoyable short break with carers they get to know well.

Care normally takes place in the Shared Carer’s own home, although there may be trips out and about. The home environment is taken into account when matching a child, as some may have mobility difficulties or use a wheelchair. Others are very active and need safe space. The child will need their own bedroom for overnight stays.

The scheme recruits, approves and trains applicants to be carers for children with severe disabilities.


Carers can be:

  • single
  • couples
  • with or without children

New carers have a full assessment over four to 6 months.

Regular care

Most children require overnight breaks but some just have day care or a mixed package. Careful introductions mean a child may go to a family for day care regularly before trying an overnight stay.

Often shared care is one weekend a month, but it can be:  

  • weekly
  • fortnightly
  • monthly

Carers who can offer extra in school holidays are particularly useful, but the main demand is at weekends. Nearly all the children attend special school during the weekdays. Your availability is taken into account when matching a child.

Support to carers

Once approved, shared carers receive support from:

  • the shared care social workers
  • the children’s social workers or occupational therapists

Training, support groups and opportunities to meet with other carers are available.

Children on waiting lists

Shared care is a long term solution, rather than care in an emergency situation.

Matching a child with the right carers is very important for a successful relationship so the waiting list is not on a ‘first come first served’ basis. There is a constant need to recruit new shared carers as new children are referred.

The children are referred to the scheme by a social worker and all will have a significant disability such as:

  • learning disability
  • physical disability
  • autistic spectrum disorder

Some of the children will have specialist medical needs, others have mobility difficulties and some will have challenging behaviour. Carers need to be warm, patient, imaginative, good at communicating, and setting boundaries. Some experience is preferred but a willingness to learn and a sense of humour are vital.

New Shared Care fees since April 2015

Carers are paid a specialist Shared Care / fostering allowance but there is no charge to the child’s family.

There is a generous annual foster carer’s tax allowance which means that few shared carers will pay tax.

Shared Carers can earn:

  • £156 for an overnight stay of 24 hours and £312 for a 48 hour weekend stay, at £6.50 per hour
  • for a child with exceptional care needs and/or waking night supervision the rate is £204 for a 24 hour stay, at £8.50 per hour
  • day care rates are £8.50 per hour or £10.50 per hour (exceptional needs and 2:1)
Page last updated: 13 May 2021
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