Respite Foster Care Explained

The original, expanded version of this article appeared on’s Spotlight page.


Not ready to foster fulltime?  Consider respite foster care to relieve the primary foster care parents of their duties for a short period of time – typically a single day, a weekend or one to two weeks.


Offering respite foster care services allows foster parents a night out, a vacation or a brief sabbatical. Respite foster care services are also available to foster parents who must travel out of town to attend to family emergencies. This is what some of B&GH current respite Foster Parents had to share.


Other Reasons to Become a Respite Foster Care Parent

Respite fostering offers a great way for licensed foster parents to "test the waters" due to its short-term nature. If you get the opportunity to offer respite foster care first and to see how it feels, then your life will be changed.


The Choices of Respite Foster Care

Respite foster care mirrors traditional foster care. Respite foster parents are allowed to choose which foster children they bring into their homes. Recently a couple said "yes" to two requests for respite foster care, and had one child for two weeks and another child for one week. Another couple recalled a recent change of heart.


"My husband and I had decided that we wouldn't provide respite care for teens. But then we got a call about a young lady who needed a short-term placement to graduate from high school. So, we made an exception to our 'no teen' rule and we brought her into our home. She did well in school, graduated and we still hear from her.".


The Ties that Bind

When you provide either respite or longer-term foster care, you're offering up your family as an example of what home life should be. So, it is important to treat our respite foster care children just as our own children. Respite foster parents often continue the relationship long after the respite care ends.


Regardless of whether foster parents choose to offer respite foster care or longer-term foster care, foster parents don't do it alone.


“When you're working with the Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina, there's never a time or an hour when you need someone that you can't reach them," said one B&GH respite care couple. "They are there when you need them."


All foster parents want to help each other and our foster kids. They stay in touch through social media, phone calls, social events and trainings. It's helpful to be able to talk to others who have experienced what you are going through, and can hold you up and give you advice.


Room in your Home, Room in Your Heart

As the discussion concluded one couple finished by saying, "My husband and I are living witnesses about how foster care changes lives. So, if you've got extra room in your home and in your heart, I encourage folks to serve as either respite or full-time foster care parents," "After all, the children are our future."


If you want to become a respite foster care parent or full-time contact B&GH.


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