What is respite foster care?

As a respite, or short-term, foster carer you will provide a caring and supportive role, not only to children in need, but also to their full-time foster family. Although you may only dedicate a small amount of time per month to as a respite foster carer, you will be making an enormous impact by offering stability and respect to some of Australia’s 50,000 children who cannot live safely at home.

Respite foster care facts

Your questions answered

What is respite or short-break care?

As a respite foster carer, you will give children regular and occasional time away from their primary foster family or parents. The length of care can vary from a day or a weekend to a short break over school holidays. “My respite commitment is one weekend every six weeks,” says one of our respite carers. “The five weeks in between I still do lots of other things. I don’t see that respite [care] ever holds me back – if anything it enhances [my life].”

Do I need special training to become a respite foster carer?

No, you do not need specific qualifications or training prior to applying to be a respite foster carer. Life Without Barriers will provide you with specialist training and support throughout the onboarding process, so you feel prepared when you begin your journey as a carer with us.

As a respite foster carer, what kinds of children will be in my care?

Respite care relationships only occurs when it is in the best interests of the child. This means it is unlikely you will provide care to a baby or young child. Children who are eligible for respite foster care are often those with more complex needs, but the requirements vary from state to state, and on a case-by-case basis. One of our respite foster carers often takes two girls, aged 12 and eight years, who live together with their full-time foster parents. “Although they are related, they have very different needs,” the carer said. “It’s a fun, interesting and sensitive time in a young woman’s life, with plenty of changes. I can remember that time well and how important good relationships and strong foundations are.”

Why do children need respite care?

Respite foster carers support children and teenagers by providing a respectful, supportive relationship, outside of the child’s primary carer, in the same way extended family, such as aunts, grandparents and family friends, do. Respite foster carers also provide invaluable support to a child’s primary carers, who may benefit from a short break. Our foster carers say they still create strong connections, not only to the children in care, but also to their full-time foster carers and their own children. “I’ve been made to feel like extended family and was invited to spend Christmas with them, which was really special for me.”

Is it easier to become a respite foster carer than a full-time foster carer?

In a word – no! Although respite foster carers may spend less time caring for children than a full-time foster carer, the process of becoming a carer is just as rigorous. The type of support respite carers can provide is just as important – and just as challenging – as full-time foster care, and the team at Life Without Barriers want to make sure you are fully prepared. Patience is really the key. Some carers undergo 6-12 months of onboarding before becoming a respite foster carer. “There is a process. You cannot just make a phone call and be registered within a week. For some people that can be a deterrent when you want to start making a difference quickly. But when you consider the sensitivity, the home environment and getting the right match… I truly believe it’s worth the wait.” One of our carers shared.

What kind of support will I get if I become a respite foster carer?

Life Without Barriers works hard to make sure you are never alone in your journey as a respite foster carer. We know that to be able to provide care and support to the children in your care, you need to feel supported and confident in your role. Our carers say they have benefited from the support services Life Without Barriers provides. “I’ve really enjoyed the training sessions that have allowed me to meet other carers and learn from their experiences.”

Some support for you as a respite foster carer includes:

Training

Life Without Barriers will provide you with a range of learning opportunities suited to your level of experience and the needs of the children in your care.

24/7 on-call support

As a respite foster carer you will have access to on-call support at any time of the day or night for advice, support, and direction in challenging situations.

Financial support

Foster carers receive a tax-free allowance to support the needs of the children placed in their care. This differs according to the needs of the child/children and where you live.

Specialist support

Life Without Barriers has specialist staff who will work alongside you, and the children in your care, when additional support is needed.

Carer networking

Talking to other carers who are just like you is sometimes the best form of support. Through regular events, we create opportunities for you to share your concerns, celebrate successes and provide feedback to the Life Without Barriers team and other carers in your network.

Got more questions? Get in touch today

Our friendly and helpful foster care specialists are ready to answer your questions. Whether you are looking to start the process, or just want more info, our team can help.

You can contact us via social channels, email and telephone. Our team will come back to you as soon as possible.

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