Anyone who has lived with children or young people has undoubtedly had a moment when they just need a break. It’s not that you don’t love or care about them, it’s just that you want to go to the loo without someone asking for something, or deal with a family crisis without worrying about who’ll hold the fort. It’s a natural part of having responsibility for other lives. In foster care, the sense of responsibility can be heightened, carers are looking after people with complex emotions and experiences. Which is why it’s so important for us to provide respite for our carers.
Respite is an opportunity for foster carers to take a break from the day-to-day responsibilities of looking after a child or young person. It could be for a couple of days over a weekend or up to a couple of weeks. Respite for carers happens for numerous reasons, it could be so that they can take a short holiday to refresh, it could be because they have to deal with something in their family, it could simply be because they need some space from challenging behaviour. No matter the reason, respite provides a well-earned break from the usual duties of a foster carer.
What is important to remember is that respite care is temporary and isn’t a permanent move for a child or young person. Many children in care may already be dealing with previous disruptions in their lives, so we make sure that they are aware that they will be going home shortly.
Respite care is a vital support for foster carers and the children they look after and can have an immense impact on quality of life. Having the opportunity, on both sides, to breathe and reset can do immeasurable good and can help to build healthy, strong relationships. Because, let’s be honest, kids sometimes need a break from the adults in their lives too.
Sometimes respite care can involve having the same child placed with their respite carer at regular intervals. Again, this can provide a much-needed break for the child and their foster carer to look forward to and helps the child or young person build a healthy relationship with another adult.
Affinity believe in supporting everyone in the Affinity family so they can reach affinity and beyond. If you’d like to find out more about how we support our carers with respite care, or are interested in becoming a respite carer, we’d love to hear from you.