There is no denying that being a foster parent is rewarding and challenging in equal measure. As well as attracting people from a range of backgrounds, there is also a need for foster carers to offer their skills in different ways. One way is to be a short-term foster parent. But what does this mean?
What is short-term foster care?
Short-term foster care is when a child (or children) is placed with foster parents for a short period, from a weekend every now and then to a few weeks or even a few months. However, some short-term foster placements can last for up to two years. It is also be known as respite care in some cases.
Why do some children need short-term foster care?
Short-term foster placements are needed for many reasons. For example;
- A child may need to live with a foster family for a while because their parent or guardian is unwell – this type of arrangement can continue for some time. The amount of time they stay with a foster family each time may be short, but it is an arrangement that can last for many years.
- Family issues – there are many reasons why some parents are unable to cope or parent their children. Short term foster placements offer the respite some families need to stay together.
- The child is waiting to be adopted – when a child is approved for adoption, they will wait to be matched to a family that meets their needs. In the interim, to give them a stable and loving home, they will live with foster parents.
- There are ongoing care proceedings – a short-term foster parent will also look after children while it is decided who is best placed to look after them.
- Respite breaks – where a child has complex physical and/or emotional needs, short-term foster carers will look after them for a short time to give their parents or guardians a break. This is known as respite care.
What are the rewards of being a short-term foster parent?
Being a foster carer is rewarding, and for those who offer short-term placements in their home, the rewards are just as fantastic.
For a family struggling to cope, a foster carer can be the ‘professional friend’ they need who offers them support, without judging why or how they are in a situation. They provide the stability and safety that many children crave when they home life is unsettled.
For any parent or guardian, knowing that there is someone there to offer this support is an important part of keeping a family together.
For children waiting to be adopted, it can be a uncertain time. As a short-term foster parent, you will play an important part in helping them to adjust and supporting them when they meet their forever family.
You will spend a lot of time not only with the child in your care but with their families too. This contact is rewarding as you can see the difference that you are making to the lives of children and their families.
How to become a short-term foster carer
There is always demand for foster care families, including those who are willing to open their lives and homes to children on a short-term basis.
If you have a spare room, are over the age of 21 and can offer time and care to a child or children on a short-term basis, there are fostering agencies waiting to hear from you.
Fostering is more than just giving a child a home. It is about giving them the love and support they and their families need.
Visit the Foster Care Associates website for more information on becoming a short-term foster carer and offering a child a loving home.