Respite care is the temporary care of children in foster care in instances where their primary caregivers are unable to provide attention temporarily or need time for some R&R. The time of care can range typically from an evening to a week. Respite care can also be characterized by a time of care given to a child who is experiencing an emotionally or physically challenging time that the primary caregiver is not fully equipped to handle or needs to step away from for a break. As it is with any child, it’s incredibly helpful to have outside assistance and counsel when dealing with situations outside one’s scope of expertise.

Depending on the state where care is being received, respite caregivers are trained and educated to care for these children, typically in a classroom setting. This training allows foster families to feel comfortable about who will be taking care of their children, and it also allows the respite caregivers to feel confident and informed about the needs that may arise when providing such care. These classes cover many areas, including general care guidelines, how to handle crisis, and general knowledge that might be helpful when caring for any child. The hour requirement for education may vary by state.

Respite care also gives the child time to bond with other adults apart from his or her primary caregivers. These outside relationships are vital to the growth and emotional well-being of any child. Children flourish when they know they have many adults in their life whom they can rely on and turn to in times of trouble or for extra reassurance. Respite care is a great way to provide support to foster parents. If you are looking for a way to get involved but are not ready or able to commit to foster care or adoption, respite care is a great option.

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Written by Lita Jordan