What is Respite Foster Care?

June 13, 2008 at 10:02 am | Posted in About Fostering | 5 Comments
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While the term ‘respite care’ is casually thrown around among people involved in the foster care sector, many members of the public may be unsure exactly what it means in the world of foster care. So, here is a brief explanation…

Respite foster care can be broadly divided into two distinct types.

i) respite for child/ren’s birth family – to prevent family breakdown, generally over a period of 6 or 12 months for one weekend a month and/or a week in the school holidays. This also allows the child to have a break from a stressful situation and take some time out.

ii) respite for a fulltime foster carer – to give the foster carer a break, let them spend time with their own family, go on holiday etc. this may be on a regular or as-needed basis for the duration of the placement, or in a time of particular stress or difficulty. This also allows the child to have a break from other children in the household, and take some time out.

Respite foster carers are trained and assessed just like fulltime foster carers. Respite carers may provide fulltime care as well, or may focus solely on respite. They may provide respite care for toddlers, children and teenagers with or without a disability.

Generally respite care occurs on a weekend, although there are many variations, especially during school holidays. If the respite is a regular arrangement, weekends are normally agreed upon in advance. This process is managed by the child’s case worker, who liases with the birth family and foster family or families.

Although each situation is different, there are some general similarities between most cases. If the respite is for a birth family, either the case worker or the respite carer may pick up and drop off the child at either end of the respite. The exact dates and times of the pick up and drop off will vary according to the availability and needs of the birth family and the respite carer.

If the respite is for a foster carer, it is generally expected that the fulltime carer will either drop off or pick up the child, and the respite carer will take responsibility for the other. Exact pick up and drop off times will usually be arranged between the carers. Respite carers may also pick up a child from school on a Friday night and drop them back to school on the Monday morning. This gives the fulltime foster carer a full weekend off. Little things like washing the child’s clothes before returning them can also make life easier for the fulltime carer.

While the child/ren is/are under the care of the respite carer it is expected that all normal aspects of care looked after by the fulltime foster carer are administered by the respite foster carer in consultation with the child’s case worker.

Respite carers are reimbursed for their day-to-day costs at the same nightly rate as fulltime foster carers. The exact amount is dependent on the number of nights a child is in respite with the carer, the age of the child, and the category of the program the child is a part of (general, intensive complex etc).


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  1. i hate this website

  2. […] and acknowledge the challenges foster care can present. They also talk about the importance of respite for foster carers. They are clearly a positive and dynamic caring duo who supporting kids and […]

  3. we have been soooo ripped off by people who have done respite for us.
    They pick up the child on FRIDAY after THEIR work (530pm) and then we HAVE to pick them up at their house on SUNDAY early (THEIR request. It feels like we havent had a break and they dont care , not one bit, just about the money.

    • The money? If it were about the money they would be babysitting which pays alot more than about $30 for 24hrs

  4. Yes. Obviously, most agencies would be careful to match your children over a certain age. Visit https://www.horizonfostering.co.uk/ and give them a call and ask them to put you in touch with your local foster care agency where you can discuss it with them in more detail.

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