As a volunteer respite carer (short-term foster parent) at Sanctuary Care, you are required to have a spare room in your home to be eligible to become a respite carer. although there is an exception for babies, who can usually share a respite carer's bedroom up to a certain age (usually around 12-18 months).
There are a few reasons why Sanctuary Care requires you to have a spare room in your home, all revolving around your respite (foster) child’s safety, security and privacy.
All children need to have their own personal space. It is a safe haven that they can call their own, where they can truly be themselves whether they are playing, exploring or just being alone with their thoughts. At the age of around three years old, children will start developing their own identities and personalities. It is at this important formative time in a child’s life that they know their rights to privacy. Having their own bedroom creates a respectable boundary between you and your respite child, just as you should with your biological child. However, it is important with foster children especially that they have their personal space. You are, after all, still a stranger to them – at least for the first few weeks.
A safe space
Your respite child is likely to have experienced a sense of abandonment as there are no familiar faces left to care for them. By ensuring that they have their own safe haven, you will in turn help them adjust and adapt to their new home and family, and ensure they feel more comfortable in their new environment.
Being a new member of the family, it is important to their development that they feel like they are treated as equals. To not have a bedroom of their own while you or their respite siblings do signals to them that you do not see them as deserving enough for one. It’s imperative that your respite child feels comfortable and at home as much as possible so that they can build the confidence and self-esteem.
Personalising their room
Having a room just for your respite child is only the first step. It has to be furnished and decorated well enough to feel like a cosy place to call home. Here are three simple tips to sprucing up your spare room to ensure your respite child’s transition process is as smooth as possible.
1. Recycling items
Recycling items is a cost-effective, easy way to turn old furniture in your spare room from old and gloomy to fun and inviting, from adding a splash of paint to old wardrobes to reusing extra lamps in the house.
2. Adding splashes of colour
No child likes a boring, dull, dark room. Breathe a little life into the space by painting the walls in bright colours. Vibrant bedsheets and curtains can also make the room pop with a playful energy.
3. Get to know your respite child
Working closely with your respite child is the most important part of having a successful respite care experience. Making the room truly theirs requires you to listen and understand their personality and aesthetic tastes. Integrate their personality into the design of their room. It can be anything from a poster of their favourite sports team, pop star or their favourite online game to a rug or curtains that they like.