What It Means to Be a Respite Foster Carer

A foster respite carer serves to provide a break for a foster family, and occasionally birth family, and a change of scene on a short-term basis.

Foster care placements are in almost constant demand, therefore so is the need for respite carers. There is so much value in providing a safe space for a child and stepping into the role of carer, but it is a demanding profession. Respite carers serve to provide a break for a foster family, and occasionally birth family, and a change of scene on a short-term basis. If you are considering embarking upon this role, there are lots of things to understand first. This guide explores the key points to consider. 

Respite Carers: A Definition

So, what is a respite carer exactly? This role is one centred around respite. A foster family may utilise this service on a monthly or quarterly timeframe, but the main concept remains the same regardless. It is a home that usually does not have a full-time child placement, but instead provides a space for many children at separate times, as frequently as the carer is able to. You have to be a good profile for the child in question, and everyone involved has to feel comfortable before moving forward. Sometimes, you may provide a respite placement for the same child on a regular basis. Other times, you may see many new faces through your door over the course of the year. 

Key Requirements

Given that you will be in charge of the care of vulnerable children, there are some standard requirements most foster agencies will demand of you before you begin the respite fostering process: 

  • Be aged over 21
  • The right to live and work in the UK
  • A completely private, spare bedroom where the child will sleep/have personal space. 
  • No criminal convictions in the household. 
  • No history or current presence of addiction, alcoholism, or violence in the home. 

What are the Benefits?

Aside from the obvious benefit of providing a warm, safe space for a child and giving a foster carer or parent a well-deserved break, there are other things to add to the list.

The Income

This is a paid profession. Every time you agree to take on a respite placement, you are paid for your time and resources. The rate varies between agencies, but it is a reasonable addition to primary income if you are considering this as an option. 

The Recharge

The main purpose of these placements is to provide a break for the main parent or foster family and their child too. It is an opportunity for everyone to regroup and recharge, and this is especially important in difficult patches. Sometimes, it is just there as something fun and different to shake up a routine and have a thing in the diary to look forward to. Often, while not required to, respite carers choose to have big, fun days out which can’t always be the norm in a mainstream placement. 

The Eclectic Experiences

For everyone in life, it is great to find new experiences. The difference between your home and the main carers may provide a splash of variety into a child’s life. Similarly, the foster child has their own unique quirks and tales to tell as well. 

Respite carers have an important role in the fostering industry. They provide a break for parents and carers, but a safe place for a child to relax as well. 

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