By Briana Jenczyk, Supervising Case Manager
Foster care wouldn’t be possible – or sustainable – without respite care. Respite care is when a family or individual temporarily cares for a foster child, giving short-term relief to the foster family or serving as an interim placement while a more permanent placement is secured. Respite care may look like babysitting for an afternoon, watching the child for a weekend, or providing help during the day while daycare or school gets set up.
Often times, foster parents find respite through family and friends, but there is also a network among our AGAPE families who build connections and provide respite for each other. Some of our most stable foster placements actually started as respite care.
For example, sometimes an older child ends up in a situation where they do not have a permanent placement. We do everything we can to keep that child within AGAPE’s continuum, and respite is one of the ways we do that. We have had families step in to fill that gap and then become a long-term or pre- adoptive option for a youth who didn’t have any hope of stability on paper.
We also use respite when a child is moving from a foster placement to their adoptive home. It is a way for the child and family to build connections while still having the security of their current placement. We use this model to help minimize the trauma of the moving process. Essentially, a child will start with play dates and then progress to overnight visits until the child and adoptive family are both prepared for the full-time move into the new adoptive home.
Though respite care may only seem like a temporary solution, it is the backbone to a lot of the work we do! Every stay matters, whether it’s only for a few hours or a few days, and it’s an opportunity to make each child feel cared for and loved.
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