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foster parent ready for basketball again after respite care

Mother and foster child relaxing after basketball.

A standard dictionary definition encompasses the notion that respite is a short period of relief. But what is respite care in terms of foster parenting?

What Is Respite Care?

Basically, a respite caregiver is a licensed foster parent who cares for a child in foster care for a designated, short period. This may be due to the child’s current foster parents needing a break (hence the word respite) or needing to be away and not being able to take their foster child along.

What Are the Benefits of Respite Care?

According to, a 2001 study revealed that frequent respite care showed a correlation to decreased family conflict. If that benefit wasn’t good enough, there are more! Below are some benefits to the youth in foster care, the respite parent, and the current foster parent.

Benefits to the Youth in Foster Care

Youth in care come to their new foster placements with their own set of issues due to the circumstances that warranted their involvement in the foster care system. However, they are still children experiencing some of the same milestones and challenges as their peers. This means they still need connections with loving adults, social interaction with those of their own age, and opportunities to develop their emerging independence. Sometimes getting away from their ‘regular’ foster parent (just as kids who are not in care have time away from their parents) can afford youth the chance to spread their wings.

Benefits to the Respite Care Parent

Caring for a child, even on a short-term basis, is not an easy decision to make. But for the individual who chooses to be a respite parent, the rewards are many. Some such benefits are: doing something that you enjoy that you can participate according to your schedule, knowing that you are helping another foster parent to recharge and continue to provide a loving home to a child, and being another dependable person in a child’s life.

Benefits to the Current Foster Parent

Parenting is hard work. Foster parents, just like other parents, must balance the demands of work, life, and home. When a respite parent steps in to provide much-needed support, be it for a weekend or a week, he/she may be enabling the foster parent to have some ‘me’ time or connect with their spouse. Whatever the situation, a respite can be a part of the restorative solution that allows a foster family to thrive.

Is Being a Respite Care Parent for You?

Only you can determine if the role of respite parent is appropriate for you. Review the many advantages, your current situation, then decide if caring for a child on a short-term basis is right for you. If you have questions, click here. We can help.