How Respite Care Can Help Empower Foster Parents
Some parents can call a babysitter or bring children to their grandparents when they need time to themselves. But that is not the reality for every family, and foster care parents may not have the same resources. That’s why KVC Missouri is here to help foster care parents by offering respite care. This compassionate service provides an important break for foster parents who have been giving their all, around the clock.
What is respite care and how can you get involved in this much-needed service? Let’s explore respite care at KVC Missouri.
What is Respite Care?
Respite care is short-term foster care designed to give primary caregivers time and space. According to KVC Director of Child Placing Amanda Everson, respite care is typically offered for less than a week and often occurs on weekends. “The purpose of respite care is to provide foster families with breaks, whether it be because they need a date night, have a trip to take or are undergoing an emergency,” Everson explains. “Families, couples and individuals can go through the process of becoming a licensed respite provider, so they can help other foster families for those break times.”
For those with a family or medical emergency, respite care can be an ideal short-term solution. Experiencing a personal issue or medical challenge doesn’t mean a caregiver has to give up fostering altogether. Respite care provides a safe, caring environment for children when there is a situation in need of attention.
Taking time off is important and may be essential to foster families. Unfortunately, respite care isn’t always available. In order to partake in respite care, fostering caregivers need access to licensed providers who can safely and properly provide a temporary home for children. With a licensed, compassionate respite caregiver, families and children can feel comfortable with our respite program. These short times in a new home can feel more like a fun trip to a relative’s house.
How does Respite Care Work?
KVC Missouri is here to help foster caregivers find respite care that will give them time to take care of themselves and other important issues. “We help our families identify resources for respite care,” Everson says. “KVC can help them identify other licensed foster families and work with other organizations that have respite providers available. Our team also recruits respite providers.”
KVC provides free training to those who want to get licensed for respite care. Those providing respite care receive a daily rate in exchange for this service. The KVC team will assign a licensing specialist for the respite caregiver to help them with paperwork and answer any questions. That team member will support them through the process and visit frequently. The 24/7 KVC helpline that’s available for foster parents is also accessible for respite caregivers who may have questions about children’s behavior or other events.
“For those kids that may have some behavioral or mental health needs, they really tend to do much better in those shorter periods of time when they’re in respite,” Everson relates. Think about it this way: While respite care provides foster caregivers with a break, it can also be a special time for foster children!
For children in foster care, respite is a wonderful time to create healthy new relationships. Respite care is not only beneficial to the foster caregiver, but it’s also an empowering time for the children. Kids in foster care can spend respite time building their social skills, growing their self-esteem and enjoying fun activities. During this time, they can also learn how to build trust with others and their foster parents as they count on them to return. As the saying goes, it takes a village. In that spirit, respite care is an essential aspect of creating a continuum of care for children in foster care.
Who Should Be a Respite Care Provider?
KVC Missouri needs compassionate, caring individuals to offer respite care to foster families around the region. What makes a good respite care provider? Those who open their homes to children in foster care are required to:
- Have availability to care for children for a few days to a few weeks, often over the weekend. You get to determine your schedule and choose when you’re available for respite care.
- Be passionate about working with children and families in the community.
- Enjoy caring for others. However, you don’t need to have been a parent or full-time caregiver before. Experience from babysitting, church nursery or time with nieces and nephews is a great start.
Many agencies around the nation don’t have enough respite care for foster care providers to meet their needs. You can be a part of the solution by getting licensed as a respite caregiver.
How You Can Get Involved
You can make a difference for foster care families by providing this important service. If you think you’d like to become a respite caregiver, you can talk to a recruiter and learn more about our program. After filling out the interest form, one of our KVC team members will get in touch to answer your questions and talk through the process.
You can also support KVC Missouri with a donation. Those who are curious about getting involved with KVC Missouri and helping advance our mission to care for children and families can do so with a minimal time commitment. Monthly, planned or in-kind giving can ensure KVC and our families are able to get the help they need. Our mission is to ensure that every child and adult is safe and connected to family and community. We’re honored to work toward this goal by providing foster parenting services, residential treatment, K-12 alternative school and more.
Your generosity creates a tremendous positive impact on those in the community. KVC is excited to partner with you to create positive change.