I have mentioned the topic of respite care a few times before, but today I wanted to discuss it in detail and hopefully convince some of you to sign up!
When families are fostering children, they are only allowed to leave the children with approved babysitters who have filed appropriate paperwork with the supervising agency. If the foster family needs an overnight babysitter for any reason, the babysitting requirements are more significant. In Texas, overnight providers were required to be fingerprinted, submit a background check, and have current CPR certification. This is a lot of work for the average person! (Special thanks to our family and friends who did complete these requirements!)
Here’s where you can come in. If you are unable to foster and/or adopt—or if you just feel unprepared—you can still be a tremendous blessing to foster families by becoming a respite provider. This means that you will complete and maintain the certifications for being an overnight care provider and be open to caring for foster children for between 24 hours to two weeks (in Texas). This is hugely helpful to foster families who need a break or who may need to travel but are unable to take the child due to foster care regulations. It is also a wonderful way to “test the waters” of foster care if you are considering getting involved. While you may not be ready or able to take the long-term leap of fostering and adopting, it is very likely that you could make room for some extra kids for a few days at a time.
While fostering, we took advantage of respite care twice in seven months. One of those times gave us a break from the kids after we had gone to our agency and said, “we’re done; take the kids back.” Yeah. That’s the unglamorous side of adoption. We were extremely tired and overwhelmed. Our agency wisely suggested that we take a break to think and pray about the situation. They connected us with a lot of resources, including respite care that allowed us to get away for the weekend. Our second use of respite care allowed us a break, but it also provided the means for us to attend an all-day, mandatory training session that would have been difficult/impossible to attend without respite providers. We were incredibly thankful for respite care when we were still subject to foster regulations.
After adopting, we provided respite care for a single foster mom in our neighborhood, taking care of one or two of her kids at a time. It really was an easy thing to do for a day at a time. You can do it, I promise!
If you are interested in becoming a respite care provider, I would suggest that you locate an foster/adoption agency in your area and contact them about the requirements. If you need specific help getting started, please email me at [email protected], and I will do my best to connect you with a local agency to start the process. If you are in Texas, you might contact our foster/adoption agency, Covenant Kids.