Respite Care

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Being a respite care provider

March 2007

We are interested in foster parenting and adoption in the future, but for right now, I'm interested in providing ''respite care'' for infants and children. (We have one young child of our own.) I understand it to mean that you provide relief for anywhere from a few hours to a few days for a parent who may not be able to care for the child or needs a rest. Does any know what programs or agencies coordinate respite care for children? anon

I am currently working through the foster/adopt process. I am working with AASK (Adopt a Special Kid) in Oakland. The other agency that has a very good reputation is A Better Way in Berkeley. I am sure if you called both agencies they would be able to spend time with you. There is a real need for the service you wanting to provide, thank you! Future mom Your post gives me the impression that you might enjoy running a licensed family day care out of your home. The required training & licensing process is a bit rigorous, but is also inexpensive & can be accomplished in 6 months to a year at most.

As a licensed family daycare provider, you would care for a small number of children in your home & would be working with the types of families that you mentioned in your post. When the county subsidizes childcare for low-income working parents & families who have been determined (by Social Services) to be in need of respite care (i.e. a break), they generally require the family to place their child(ren) with a licensed family daycare provider.

Foster parents also frequently place younger children in family daycare facilities because foster kids often feel more secure in small, home environments & because it's more affordable.

Visit the folks at BANANAS on 5232 Claremont Ave in Oakland (510-658-0381 or They have tons of information & are VERY supportive because family daycares run by caring people like you are desperately needed in most neighborhoods.

Family daycare providers care for & educate children in their home during specific hours of business. Foster parents care for children placed in their home 24/7 just like biological & adoptive parents. The requirements for getting licensed as a family daycare provider or foster parent are similar (though the process of foster parenting is more elaborate). You attend an orientation; take classes in 1st Aid, CPR & home safety (prospective foster parents also take an 8-week evening course); get your fingerprints & TB test done; & go through a detailed home study (lots of forms, childproofing, back & forth, etc.)

But the agencies & licensing procedures involve totally separate processes. Perhaps you can start with babysitting (caring for individual children or siblings does not require a license), see if you like it & then pursue a family daycare license or foster care license.

I went through the process of starting a home daycare, then we moved. Now, we're in the process of adopting through the foster care system. That's why I sound like such a know-it-all. I wish you the best of luck. Lisa

Identifying respite care for foster/adopt

February 2007

I am currently going throught he application process of becoming a foster/adopt mom. A very exciting and scary time. So far the only piece of the application that seems difficult for me is identifying a respite care giver for my child/children. I am hoping for siblings between the ages of 2 and 8, but I have no idea who my children will be or what ages. I would like to hear from others who have been through this process and how they dealt with this part of the process.
Soon to be single mom

First- It is wonderful that you are taking the steps toward helping and serving these needy children. My hat's off to you.

My advise comes to you from another side - as a counselor/supervisor who worked with youth in foster care (and their bio/foster parents). It is essential that you have a support system for the care/needs of these children that ultimately helps get your needs met. These children typically come with many service providers (special ed teacher, various therapists, DSS social worker, lawyer) and these people need to meet with the children periodically/on-going. Foster parents need to help co-ordinate these visits and provide feedback from an adults perspective. The youth that I worked with often had school behavioral problems, so the foster parents needed to be available more often to interact and advocate on behalf of the youth at school (this can be a daunting task, especially with the Oakland system). The foster parents that seemed to do well had their own support system in place and used it. It is my understanding that adults who help out in this need to be ''approved'' by DSS (live scan background check).

The other thing that I saw that tended to frustrate foster families was a constant sense that the youth betrayed them. Many well meaning people enter in to this expecting that the youth will view the foster parents as wonderful and life saving. Yet for the youth to do this, they have to betray their own bio- family (despite how many horrible things the bio parents did, they still are that youth's bio parents). Again, having your own support to talk about your mixed feelings, disappointments and wonderful stories is so vital.

The last thing that I can think of is the foster parent's lack of privacy. The dependency case gets presented in court about 2x per year and others will submit written assessments of the youth's home care in court papers. Many of the foster parents feel very exposed and judged in this process. Again having your own support comes in handy. That support can be friends, family or a 3rd party (counselor/religious leader). I want to wish you the best of luck on your journey. There are many wonderful moments that can balance the tough times. Amy

We adopted two. It's going very well.

Do note: Respite was so VERY important. We were, as they say, ''drinking from a fire hose'' - it was VERY draining and confusing and difficult. We had one babysitter freak out when one of the kids was exploring with some charged topics, conversationally.

You should really get people set up beforehand. If you go fost- adopt, have a few friends get fingerprinted, or whatever it takes for them to be legal babysitters until adoption is final, and then anyone you trust can provide sitter care.

Another issue is that with older kids, you'll be dealing with some socialization/behavioral issues that may freak out the un- prepared. There is *nothing* like having someone who is ready and prepared for this stuff, who will share with you the difficult challenges they encounter when you're away - and without being freaked out. Maturity goes a long way, and experience goes further.

There are some agencies that could also help. Ask your adoption case worker/agency for respite care leads. Try, family support services of the bay area, a bank of experienced fost/adopt respite care providers who are amazing.

Make sure you are prepared!!! If you can cultivate some good relationships between adult friends of yours and your children, there will be care in a pinch, and your children will already have some trust in your friends to support them while you're resting just a bit.

Best of luck! Anon