Between long term placements, we often do what’s called “respite care.”
We get a lot of questions about it because friends see us with kids for just a few days. For instance, we cared for two wonderful sisters, ages 3 and 5, this past weekend. We don’t know their stories, only that they needed care from Friday till Sunday. Their foster parents are in the National Guard, and needed to attend a weekend of required training.
Respite is short term care provided to a foster child by someone other than their foster parents. It’s like babysitting.
The reason it’s so important is that foster parents aren’t allowed to rely on neighborhood babysitters, or friends, or family. Anyone and everyone who watches a foster child must be approved by the state. Fingerprints taken, background checks given, the whole deal. And understandably so. These kids deserve all we can do to ensure their safety.
Weddings, funerals, and out-of-town work meetings are common reasons foster parents ask for respite care. In Missouri, foster parents earn 12 days of “respite care” per year.
Often, after we help a foster family for a weekend, they will ask us again a few months down the road. It’s a gift to be able to build a relationship and come alongside other foster parents and their kids.
This matters for two reasons.
1. It enables the foster parents to keep at it. They don’t burn out or give up. Their foster kids don’t have to change foster homes. Win.
2. It allows foster kids to go to a safe home they know. It’s scary constantly going to new people and places. Allowing kids to return to someone and something familiar is a big deal. Win.
We love providing respite. We do it because we all need time to recharge our bodies or reconnect with our spouses. Or just rest.
We also do it because of what we heard the very first time we had a kiddo for respite care. As we welcomed our 13 year-old charge through the front doors, he said, “Oh good. It’s a clean home.” Apparently, some of the homes he’d seen in foster care weren’t so clean. So we say “yes” now as often as we can.
Would you consider saying “yes” too?