What is Respite Care?

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So you're curious about getting involved in Foster Care, but not sure you and your family are ready to commit to full-time Fostering?  Respite care is a wonderful way to test the waters and can be a HUGE help to both the Foster Parents and Foster Kids in your community!

Respite Care is being available to foster families to provide a break in their placement, or providing emergency placement for Child and Family services while a more permanent foster solution is determined.  Most Respite placements are typically less than 2 weeks in length (although there can be exceptions).

Respite Families are needed due to:

  • Family emergencies: Unexpected surgeries or illness, death in the family, etc.  Emergencies happen, and Respite may be needed for the foster child(ren).

  • Family vacations without parent’s approval: If a foster family has plans to travel out of state, the biological parents must provide permission for their child(ren) to go with the foster family – if the biological parents don’t grant the permission, respite care is needed. 

  • Family vacations that were already planned before the child(ren) joined the foster family: Sometimes a family will get a last minute placement and already have a trip in the works, and is unable to maneuver thru the red-tape and existing plans to add the foster child(ren) to their trip.

"Our family started fostering fulltime and then our first placement became our son.  Our process with him so very quick that we didn’t need respite during the 15 months that he was placed with us.  After his adoption was completed, we wanted to take the time to bond our new family, but also were so very aware of the need to remain in the foster community where there is such a shortage of homes, and we felt led to be a Respite Care home.  We have now offered respite care for 5 years and it is a great fit for our family – it may be for yours also!"

- Charlene Drummond

Instead of thinking of reasons to NOT get involved, think of reasons TO get involved!

  • Respite helps meet a need: Foster is hard, fostering is stressful, and having to utilize respite for whatever reason can be hard on a foster parent.  Parents don’t typically make it a habit to leave their kids with just ‘anybody’ to go on a business trip, or because there is a family emergency, or for whatever other reason – but the need is there, and to be a stable landing place for the parents and kids takes a huge load off of the foster families, no matter whether the respite placement is for a night or for a couple of weeks.

  • Respite can help you realize what you and your family can manage: An 18 month old for a weekend?  A teenager for a week?  A set of siblings for a few days?   How you and your family act and react during the temporary placements may help you see where you may serve more or serve less or differently for the kids in need.  You may find your perfect fit in being the quick safe-landing, or may find that you can do something more committed and open for long-term placements. 

  • Respite can help build relationships with other foster parents: You may have a particular family for respite only once, or you may have a family that builds relationship with you and utilizes you multiple times.  We have experienced both and it is wonderful when you can build relationship with the foster parents, and their kids are excited about weekend stays at your house!  Your home becomes another ‘safe place’ and you become another ‘trusted adult’ for these kids from hard places.  

  • Respite allows your family to love on a child who needs love: No matter why a foster parent has need of respite care, the bottom line is that there’s a child in need of a home and love.   The mission field comes to you and you get a chance to show them (as their foster family also is) what family can be, letting them know that they are loved and cherished and valued.

You could be the difference between leaving a child with a stranger and leaving a child with a dear friend for a foster family.  For the kids, “Respite” becomes a fun visit with a family friend, and the parents know that they are leaving the kids with someone that they can trust.

For more information on Respite Care and how you can help, please follow this link:

Respite Care for Resource Families

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Michelle Vernon


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