Being a Caregiver

What It's Like


Challenges of Being a Caregiver

Rewards of Being a Caregiver


Caregivers 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 care settings.

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 to top

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 boy.

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 our doorstep.

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. Back to top

Emergency and respite caregivers complete
the same preparation required of all foster families. Back to top

Challenges 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.

It is difficult when a foster family becomes attached to a child who must be returned to his or her biological family.

Foster parents who are considering parenting an adolescent for the first time may feel intimidated by adolescent issues.

Children 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.
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