are families waiting to take foster children on an emergency basis—those
kids who need to be placed in safe situations right away. A caregiver
will be asked to care for these children anywhere from a few hours
to a few weeks, until they can be placed in more long-term foster
Another option as a caregiver is becoming
a respite family. A respite
family will take in a foster child for as long as a few weeks, or
frequently just for a weekend. This gives the child’s foster
family a chance to regroup and relax.
Being a Caregiver
As an emergency caregiver, you’ll host children for periods
of a few days. These children have just been removed from unsafe
situations—abusive or neglectful homes—and they don’t
know what will happen to them next. They need a safe, reassuring,
stable home. You can provide that.
Respite caregivers work with kids who have already been placed in
foster settings. If jobs and other commitments keep you busy, providing
respite care is a way to remain active in the community. It also
gives you a chance to try foster placement for the short term and
see if it’s right for you and your family. Back
What It’s Like
7:45 p.m. There is the
knock on the door we’ve been waiting for.
In spite of our previous experiences as emergency caregivers, I’m
still worried about not being able to meet the needs of this 14-year-old
Part of me is excited about the prospect of a possible opportunity
to help, but another part of me feels devastated for this child.
We go to the door and I am able to immediately stop thinking of
how I feel and try to put my feet in the shoes of this child on
He’s at the home
of total strangers. How overwhelming
this must be! How frightening an experience for him!
I smile, remain calm, and try not to look sad as I notice the grocery
sack he carries clutched in his hand with what I assume are a few
personal belongings. He walks hesitantly in, and thank heavens,
our cat comes and does figure-eights around his legs. They seem
to strike up an immediate friendship!
The social worker stays until the boy eventually begins to talk
with us a little. He and my husband talk about sports and my husband
convinces him to have something to eat. We try not to crowd him;
we let him have his space.
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Emergency and respite caregivers complete the
same preparation required of all foster families. Back
of Being a Caregiver
Caregivers may encounter
many of the same challenges as foster parents:
The legal system can be unpredictable, and children’s
cases do not always move to permanency as quickly or as simply
as one might like.
is difficult when a foster family becomes attached to a child
who must be returned to his or her biological family.
parents who are considering parenting an adolescent for the
first time may feel intimidated by adolescent issues.
in foster care have often experienced trauma that affects their
ability to attach to a new foster family.
Keep in mind, though, that Allendale’s
team will be right there with you, offering their expertise and
support. Back to top
Rewards of Being a Caregiver
Providing respite care is a way to become involved and give to the
community on your own terms. You have the flexibility of deciding
when and how much time you have to give.
If you’re considering becoming a foster parent, being a respite
caregiver will help you become familiar with Allendale’s specialized
foster care program and the types of children referred to us for
placement. You’ll learn more about special-needs children
and their development.
Respite providers are paid. When financial stressors prevent you
from donating your time, providing respite care allows you to help
while still being reimbursed.
Finally, you’ll have the incalculable reward of knowing you’ve
made a difference in a child’s life. Back