Respite Care Services

Parents raising children who have experienced trauma or who have disabilities often face significant parenting challenges. Children and youth may also need a break from their parents, especially if their parents are stressed or if the children are feeling pressure being part of a new family. Although everyone in the family may need a break, it can be difficult for parents to find appropriate, skilled child care providers who can give parents and children time apart safely. Respite care—whether planned or for crisis situations— provides a needed rest for both parents and children and can take many forms. In some cases, respite programs give children the chance to build relationships with other children in adoptive, foster, and kinship families and to participate in meaningful activities that increase their skills.

Respite care typically comes in two categories, Planned respite and crisis or emergency care. Across those two categories, child welfare systems provide respite care—or provide families resources to enable them to get respite care— in many ways. In some cases, respite care is a specific service offered to families. In other cases, respite is a component or an additional benefit of other services and activities (such as recreational or support events for youth that give youth and their parents time apart).

Below we briefly highlight the various types of respite care and examples of programs that are implementing them.

Program Description
Support network development
Helping parents identify and develop their own network of supportive adults, including family, friends, neighbors, and other foster and adoptive parents, gives them a natural support system that can provide ongoing assistance and respite care.
Special events Parties, picnics, and other special gatherings for families often provide multiple benefits, including creating opportunities for families to meet other foster, adoptive, and kinship families; to celebrate foster, adoptive, and kinship parenting; and to offer welcoming environments for parents and children to have fun.
Recreation, Camps or Retreats Support services for families in adoption, foster care, and kinship care often include periodic special events such as camps or retreats that serve the entire family, just the parents, or just children and youth.
Hub homes/Dedicated respite families Through the Mockingbird Society, foster parents are able to access respite care from a licensed foster caregiver who is part of their supportive community.
Respite Care Providers Developing a pool of adults who are specifically trained to provide respite care helps ensure that families can find appropriate respite care options through an organized list and that they can trust that the respite care provider will be prepared to work with their child.


This information was provided by AdoptUSKids report on How Child Welfare Systems Are Providing Family Support: Respite Care Services.

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