We like to think that respite care goes beyond just providing shelter for a child and ensuring the house is sterile clean and child proof. Oh nooo, to do respite right, you need to make it more "family" and less like an "orphanage out of a Dickins' book".
What you do for your own child, you do for the respite child.
One of the purposes for placing a respite child in a respite carer’s home is so that the child will continue experiencing life as a family. That means he or she needs someone to be a parent and to be a figure that he or she can rely on. That also means that the usual routine activities that the child has, such as school, student care and homework, continue.
Help the child settle in.
Cooking their favourite foods, doing their favourite activity or reassuring them of the days they are due to go back to their parents go a long way in reducing the extent of upheaval that a child is facing.
Of course, this is not going to be a straight road. Expect days where your respite child won’t stop crying or acting up. Do know that no matter how hard it is for you, it is nothing compared to how your respite child feels. On the other hand, there are gonna be days when you bond as a family over a fun activity and you wish you could keep them for a little longer. A strong dose of patience is your best friend when caring for a respite child.
Nice to meet you
Working closely with your respite child is the most important part of having a successful fostering experience.
Not just you and the respite child, the whole family! It is a negative and potentially traumatic situation that your respite child had to leave his or her parents for awhile but hey, everyone can turn this into a positive moment! Go on a special excursion to East Coast park or the zoo, for example. Everyone from the respite child to your own child will have something to look back fondly on from this experience.
Check out OUT WITH THE KIDS for exciting events, games and activities you can do with the respite child and your own family!
Remember that you are welcoming an additional child into your home. Some days, you may feel like it’s all just too much for you. As with anything else in life, there are bound to be ups and downs. Occasionally, take a step back and see if you need a break. Make sure you have some time for yourself, to care for yourself. Of course, the case worker is always on hand to support you, as well as the child, making sure you are physically, mentally and emotionally ready for all the challenges that come with supporting a child. But you know yourself best. Be sure to call for help when you need it. You are no good to the respite child or your family if you are frazzled and burnt out.