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5 myths around respite (short-term foster) care busted

5 myths around short-term foster care busted

We’ve all heard the term “foster care” but, truth be told, it’s a very misunderstood concept and gets a pretty poor rap. So, what exactly is foster care? We are about to debunk some myths and get to the truth of the matter.

Myth #1: Foster care leads to adoption

This is probably the most misunderstood concept of foster care. Foster care doesn’t lead to adoption. It is a temporary solution for both child and parent. It is designed to give the child a good home with a volunteer family on a temporary basis to allow the biological parents to get themselves back up on their feet so that they can provide a good home once again. The ultimate goal of this arrangement is always to reunite biological parents or relatives with their children once they prove that they are capable of taking full responsibility for the child again. At Sanctuary Care, we only take in short-term fostering cases that do not involve child protection cases. The goal is to return the child to the parents within three months. In most cases, it’s often a lot shorter.

Myth #2: Fostering is for the wealthy

You don’t have to be affluent to become a respite carer (foster parent). Generally, if you can financially support your own family and be responsible for your own children, you can consider becoming a respite carer. In fact, at Sanctuary Care, we help to carry some of the additional financial expenditure by supplying diapers and milk powder if the child needs them and by providing a transportation allowance.

Myth #3: Fostering is for the young

You don’t need to have a young family with children to qualify as a foster parent. One of the most common types of respite carer (foster parent) is the ‘empty nester’. The empty nester is a parent whose own children have grown up and left home. Providing respite (short-term foster) care is a way for them to still take care of children at home and at the same time give back to the community by helping those in need. At Sanctuary Care, we welcome anyone who meets the criteria to apply. This includes expat families who intend to remain in Singapore for at least the next year.

Myth #4: There is widespread abuse in the foster care system

Handing your child over to a stranger even for a very short time is naturally a stressful transition to make. However, respite carer (foster parent) go through an extremely strict vetting process. We select those that are willing to open their homes to lend a helping hand. Our social workers work closely with our foster families, creating a close-knit community with the care of the children being our number one priority. They are also trained to identify potential for abuse. Any respite carer (foster parent) found unsuitable will be removed from the system. To date, we have not found that need.

Myth #5: The children are all bad

We know that there are no bad children. Without a doubt, going into respite (foster) care and being separated from their family, no matter how short a time that may be, is a trauma for every child. Each child will react differently, and some may initially be difficult to handle. It’s like any relationship — trust needs to be earned. Some children will tend to be quiet, some will be scared, some will shout and scream for their biological parents, and some will be so numb to the pain that they’ll simply go on as if nothing has happened. However, most children are simply looking for a loving relationship with their temporary respite carer's (foster) family and will adjust quickly. At Sanctuary Care, the children we help are between birth and eight years of age. The time frame for accommodation can range from just a few hours to no longer than three months.

Respite care (short-term foster care) is an arrangement set up to help both the child and the foster parent. With teams of social workers working in the background to support the biological parents in providing a stable home life, the child is returned to the biological family as soon as realistically possible.

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