Raising children is no easy task, but when caring for someone else’s children, it can be even more difficult. Right now, there are nearly 60,000 foster children in California and more than 600 of them are currently living with families in Shasta County. Many of these children have psychological or behavioral issues stemming from emotional or physical abuse. These issues can make caring for those children a trying and exhausting endeavor for full-time foster parents. Fortunately, the families that are involved in foster care are not left without resources. The number one resource provided for foster families that need a break is called respite care.
What is respite care?
Respite care for foster families is a service provided by some local county agencies. It can allow foster parents to have a short period of rest or relief from the stress and worry of caring for children. In a way, it is no different than a parent who seeks outside help from family or friends when they desire a night away and need child care. The difference is, the county aids in the placement and payment of respite caregivers, which makes the process even easier for foster parents.
Who provides respite care?
While many people may have the urge to foster a child, many do not have the time and money needed to do so on a full-time basis. A married couple may travel for work for much of the year and is therefore only able to provide fostering services on limited schedule. Many men work seasonal jobs and have more time to assist in the care of foster children during the off-season. The rules, licensing and regulations that apply to full-time fostering are often the same for respite care, but this provides more flexibility for busy adults that would like to make a difference in the life of a child.
County agencies are committed to providing proper care to children in need. Therefore, they are also concerned with the reliability and well-being of the foster parents that care for those children. By providing respite care, agencies can prevent “burnout” in parents. It has also been shown to reduce conflict within the foster home. At the same time, those with the urge to foster, whether they have no children of their own or just want to help, are able to do so when they are available.