Kris’ Corner – The Importance of Respite

October 22, 2020

As I’ve mentioned previously, we are a respite foster home…this means that we provide respite (or a break) to homes placed with a longer-term placement. We know that full-time foster care can be exhausting, and sometimes foster parents simply need a break. And that’s ok. That’s why respite exists…so that they can step away for a bit and not have their placement disrupted.

Many people have never even heard of respite foster care, but it is an integral part of the system, and is often a piece which can help alleviate stress and keep a placement intact.  In fact, respite can be utilized for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to:

  • the foster home is not allowed (as deemed by the court) to take a placement out of state;
  • the foster home does not want to take their placement on a trip (either in or out of state);
  • the foster home simply needs a break, for any particular reason;
  • there is an emergency in the foster home and the foster parents need to focus on it (i.e. Illness or death of a parent or loved one, their own illness, some other family emergency)

As you may have gathered from a previous post, we didn’t set out to be a respite home. However, it has become our family’s way of still being connected to foster care and lending a hand as we are able. We wanted to continue with longer-term placements but right now that’s not what we are able to do. But short-term placements (as in 1-3 days typically) that fit into our schedule? We can absolutely do that!

To be clear, sometimes respite can be a week or more (and you would know the timeframe ahead of time…it’s rarely, if ever, something that’s in flux); the actual length of time will depend on the needs of the foster home utilizing it.

I’m not going to beat around the bush: respite homes are in high demand. So if you’re new to being a foster parent or aren’t quite sure that you would be able to take long-term placements, I encourage you to consider being a respite home. Doing respite to get your feet wet can give you access to different types of kids with a variety of needs and ages (or number in a sibling group) to determine which type of child might fit best into your family’s dynamic.

But because being a respite home does require the same paperwork and training hours as long-term placements, foster parents who respite are also able to “full-time foster” if the opportunity should present itself. And because it goes both ways, homes who are taking longer placements but who may be between placements often will accept a respite, as a way to stay involved; however there is such a demand for foster homes in general, the opportunity to find a “empty” foster home is getting more difficult to find. More often than not, it is homes with full-time placements who are also doing respite at the same time.

Hope that clears up any misunderstanding, or possibly gives you the push you needed to pursue your foster care license.