Pros and Cons
Respite care is a service for families and children who are struggling and who need a break.
This involves a child or children going to stay with foster carers or other care providers for a short time to help the parents rest and feel energised again.
Respite care is also available for the foster carers themselves should they feel that they need a break from the foster children that they look after.
This service is an important part of the system, and works well for children who are in short term placements and who don’t have a strong attachment to their foster family.
However, for children who have been in a long term placement and who are established within the family, is placing them into respite care the right thing to do when difficulties within the family arise?
How will these foster children learn about life and the ups and downs that come with it if they are removed at the first sign of difficulty and then returned after the event?
If a child in placement is not in any risk of danger then is it best for them to remain within the family unit to be part of the ups and downs?
For example, a bereavement will bring sadness and loss to a family but the process of coming to terms with the situation will show how grieving can help all the family to move on.
These life skills are a valuable part of growing up and children in foster care should experience these vital lessons rather than the first reaction of shielding them.
Foster carers are there to provide security and stability within a family home. Family life together with all the problems and situations it brings should also be experienced by children in placement dependent on the child’s history.
By preventing these children from encountering the day to day problems we all experience, are we denying them valuable learning experiences which will benefit them in later life?
So respite care should be used with caution, and with every effort to reduce any problems for foster children.