Though foster parents are usually temporary caregivers, even they need a break every once and a while. After a biological parent has a child, there comes a time when the adult feels comfortable asking a babysitter, family member, or friend to care for the little one for a short period of time. This does not commonly happen with a child in foster care.
Foster parents receive few offers to babysit their children. Not only must these adults often deal with a more difficult child, they must do it for longer and with fewer breaks. The behavioral problems, health issues, and learning disorders that many foster children bring with them can wear on a foster parent. The adult can become burned out much quicker than parents of children without these issues.
Scheduled respite breaks are infrequent and sometimes delayed for several weeks. Some foster parents create their own network of trading help, watching each other’s children when a break is needed. If this is not possible, foster parents should contact the agency or county to request a sufficient amount of breaks. Respite periods allow foster parents to be most effective.
Some agencies or counties hire respite workers to temporarily watch the children within the foster home. For some foster parents, this may not be an ideal arrangement. They prefer to relax at home without the children. In those cases, it may be arranged for the foster children to be taken to the home of the respite worker.
However it can be worked out, foster parents need to take breaks. Doing otherwise can be very unhealthy. The easiest way to get a break is to find other foster parents to watch the children. When this cannot be done, alternative arrangements should be made so the adults can have time to rest and recharge from their difficult jobs.