Respite to the Rescue

A few days ago I put up a little something on FaceBook about respite care. I was so (happily) surprised at the number of messages I got in response from friends wanting to help! Thank you for your willing hearts! I thought it’d be easiest to address everyone’s questions via a post, instead of sending out several of the same messages separately.

Facts about Respite Care:

1. It’s NEEDED.

Foster families are (in general) pretty taxed in terms of both numbers (of children) and just the basic energy it takes to raise foster kids. They need breaks. Sometimes just for coffee. Sometimes for an actual date. Or maybe just a boring dentist appointment that they NEED to get to. Most foster families don’t have someone that is either willing or able to take their foster children as their own for a day or sometimes for the week. Having a break is sometimes exactly what is needed to regroup, re-energize and refocus on their job as foster parent. And knowing that you are a safe, loving, capable person, makes it SO much easier to hand over “their” baby/child to you.

2. Do I have to have special training?

Nope. You do need to fill out a simple form (as well as every adult that lives in your house) that is processed rather quickly in-house at the local DHS office. It’s basically a background check to be sure you are a safe person without a criminal history. You also need to have lived in the state for the last 5 years.

3. Can I do respite for one particular family or do I get put on a list for strangers to call?

That is your choice. If you have a foster family that needs help and your heart is to come along side and help in this way, then by all means YES! And if you have a heart to help whoever needs help – YES!

4. Can I choose to only take babies?

Sure. You can decide how you are best able to help. If taking one baby at a time is what you can handle, then that’s fabulous. If taking on the entire sibling group for the foster family is something you can do — SWEET! If you are a nurse and can take medically fragile babies — what a blessing! It’s difficult to find foster parents who are trained in the area of feeding tubes and oxygen masks, let alone respite providers!

5. Do I get paid for this?

Good question. You can choose to do it for free and bless your foster parent. But it’s not expected. You can work that out individually with each foster family. The honest truth, when you break down how much foster families get paid, it works out to be about $0.80-$1.05/hour, depending on the age of the child. Trust me when I say, foster parents don’t do this for the money. That is a myth and just plain ignorance on the part of anyone who has that opinion.

6. How long will I have the kids?

This will depend upon what your foster family is needing. I know of some foster families who had a special respite provider who would act like a Big Brother/Sister to older kids and had a scheduled time to come pick up a certain kiddo, take them out and hang out for a few hours once a week. It was a welcome reprieve for this family and something they could look forward to. But being available on an evening or weekend for the couple to have a date night? Priceless. Being available/willing to take a child (or children) for an entire week for a family to go on vacation, family reunion, job travel, etc.? Just amazing. {And please don’t judge the foster family for choosing to take or not take their foster child with them—this is very personal and you don’t know all the varying facts regarding each individual case.}

7. How do I start?!

Yay! If you are ready to start blessing some foster parents by being a respite provider, then simply send me a message (via FaceBook or email @ tnraichart@gmail.com) and include your address. I will send you the forms and get the process rolling!

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