Respite Provider: Unsung Hero in Foster Care

Respite Providers Bring Relief

While most folks have a basic understanding of foster care and how it works, becoming a respite provider is a unique way to serve kids as well. As fellow foster parents, it requires a unique kind of hero to make this special commitment. A reputable foster care agency or program strives to place children who have been removed from highly unstable home environments into homes with safe and nurturing adults. The goal is to boost the child’s resilience while aiding them in meeting healthy personal/emotional, social, and academic milestones. While not all foster placements endure, a long-term stay is usually ideal for bolstering the relationships (which create the much-needed stability).

Foster care programs recognize that fostering a child in need is exhausting work, and that foster parents need breaks from time to time in order to provide their best care. Kids in care also benefit from short breaks from their primary foster placement, just like most kids appreciate a break from their parents or guardians on occasion. That’s where a respite provider fits into the equation. They open their homes (and hearts) to children who are already placed in another home. The purpose of this is giving everyone a much-needed break, usually from one to three days. Emergency respite is another option that carries its own challenges and rewards, aiding children who do not yet have a stable foster home placement.

Shot of a cheerful young respite provider helping her foster child to ride his bike outside during the day

Try Becoming a Respite Provider Before a Foster Parent

Potential foster parents who have reservations about the schedule demands of typical foster care may wish to consider serving as a respite provider, as there is considerably more flexibility. A respite provider can typically let the agency or program know well in advance when they are available to provide care. While respite care is not easier per se, some respite providers report that children who typically struggle with emotional-behavioral issues appear to cope more easily in respite.

Finally, potential respite providers may wish to consider how their own goals may be impacted by longer-versus-shorter placements. On one hand, some foster parents find that working through the day-to-day to create stability for a child in a longer-term placement creates a more meaningful experience for all. On the other hand, it is not uncommon for a foster child to develop a strong rapport with a respite provider and express excitement about their special weekends with a trusted and familiar friend.  Respite care is a unique option to consider for those who feel called to support children whose circumstances have brought them into foster care.

Learn More about Becoming a Respite Provider

Please contact us to learn more about fostering options.