Family Link Scheme

Family Link photo album

The Family Link Scheme is a service for children with a disability aged 0-18 years, which offers short breaks with an individual carer/family.

The scheme offers two services - link care and sitting. Link carers provide care based in their own homes (which can include overnight care).

Sitters offer care in the child's own home.

Both carers and sitters enable children with a disablity to access activities in the community.

Becoming a carer or sitter can be a valuable experience both personally and as a way of starting a career in childcare. The service offers flexible working hours, fitting in around another job if you wish. 


Caring for children with disabilities on a full time basis can be very intensive and exhausting. The service gives parents/carers valuable time to themselves to do other things.

Having a link carer or a sitter can be an enjoyable change of scenery for a child with a disability, giving them the chance to make new friends, develop some independence and broaden their horizons.  

Who can become a carer or a sitter?

Our carers and sitters are people who enjoy being with children and who have some spare time, energy and commitment. Some of our carers/sitters have special skills and all of them have experience of caring for their own, or other people's children.

The carers and sitters are of all ages; they can be single or married and may have their own children. We have sitters and carers from all ethnic, cultural and religious groups to care for the children who use the service.

Recruitment and training

Link carers are thoroughly assessed in their own home by a family link worker as required by the Children's Act 1989. Checks are made with the police, health authority and local authority departments.

Sitters also undergo checks but they are interviewed and appointed rather then assessed in their homes.

Carers and sitters attend a 14-hour induction programme and specialist training in first aid, moving and lifting and Makaton.

They also attend quarterly support groups and receive regular supervision.

How often does a child see the sitter or carer?

Link carers offer short breaks in their own homes with stays ranging from a few hours to overnight. This usually takes place a few times a month. A carer needs to have about 42 hours a month to support a child with a disablity.

Sitters provide regular short breaks in the child's home, although many of the children like to go out (eg to the park). A sitter needs to be able to work a minimum of 16 hours per month, but more hours are possible.

All carers and sitters are linked with one child but sometimes more depending on the time they have available. This gives the carer/sitter the opportunity to build up a relationship with the child and their family.


Carers are paid a non taxabale allowance of £6.35 per hour. Sitters are paid a taxable rate of £9.65 per hour.

Interested in becoming a carer or sitter?

For more information please telephone 0800 731 6550 (freephone).