The demands of caring for children who have suffered a history of traumatic experiences can be overwhelming to even the best caregivers. To provide opportunities for time away, we qualify people to provide respite care services to Missouri children to help foster, kinship and adoptive families to get the help they need.
What is respite care?
Respite care is care provided to a foster or adopted child for a short period of time by someone other than the primary caregivers (i.e. foster parents, adoptive parents, or kinship parents). Respite care gives foster, adoptive, and kinship parents and children the chance to have short, regular periods of time apart in which they can rest and recharge. It also provides crisis care for the times in which the trauma of the child is seriously impacting other members of the family. It enhances the quality of care for the child, gives parents a deserved and necessary break, and ensures healthy and stable placements for all children by preventing parental exhaustion and burnout. While respite care is designed primarily to provide rest and relief for the primary caregivers, the child in respite care also benefits. A temporary change of caregiver gives the child an opportunity to build new relationships and experience a bit of independence. Quality respite care can nurture the child’s sense of trust and stability through contact with additional stable and caring adults and their families. Respite care providers are an extremely important and valuable part of the foster care and adoption systems.
Who can qualify as a respite provider?
Respite providers are qualified, trained individuals who care for children on a temporary basis either in their own homes or in the homes of the families using respite care. It is very important that only qualified, well-trained respite caregivers whom families can trust with their children provide respite care. The certification process required for respite caregivers helps assure this goal. To qualify as a respite care provider, an individual must be at least 21 years old. The other requirements vary depending on whether the provider is an adoptive parent, a current foster parent, or has no previous association with the foster/adoptive systems. A respite provider doesn’t have to be married, be a parent, own his/her home, or have a large income. In other words, don’t assume there is something about your circumstances that will prevent you from becoming a respite provider. If you have questions about your eligibility, please ask us.
How long does respite care last?
Foster and adoptive families are allotted a certain number of respite care units per child per year. The number of units depends on the child’s classification. They can divide those units up as they choose. The periods of respite care can last a day, a weekend, or a week. Respite care providers are free to choose the length of the periods of respite care they provide.
Where is the care provided?
Care may be provided either at the respite care provider’s home (out-of-home care) or at the foster/adoptive family’s home (in-home care). Respite care providers choose the type of care they would like to provide.
How is respite care scheduled?
When foster/adoptive/kinship parents are in need of respite care, they call MFCAA and give us information about the kids in need of care, when care is needed, etc. We then match their request with appropriate respite providers on our referral list. Next we call the potential respite providers with information about the care needed, and if the respite provider is interested, he/she calls the foster/adoptive parents directly to arrange care.
I am a foster or adoptive parent in need of respite care. What do I do?
If you are a foster parent, call MFCAA and we will make every attempt to find a respite provider for you. If you are an adoptive parent, it is important to make sure the child for whom you are seeking care has a respite care subsidy in his/her adoption contract. If this is not the case, please call us and we will help you apply to amend the adoption contract to include a respite subsidy.
Do respite providers get to choose which children they provide care for and how often they provide care?
Absolutely. When someone applies to become a respite provider, he/she provides information about the type of children for whom he/she would like to provide care. The provider may change this information at any time. When we call a provider with a placement, we give the provider detailed information about the child in need of care, and the provider is free to decline a placement at any time.
What benefits are given to respite care providers and what support is available?
The state of Missouri, through the Children’s Division of the Department of Social Services, reimburses respite providers at a rate of $20 per day for foster children classified as traditional or behavioral, and $40 per day for children classified as career. All children in foster care are automatically eligible for paid respite care. However, in order for a provider to be paid to provide respite care to an adopted child, the child must have a respite care subsidy written into his/her adoption contract. For foster children, the foster parent gives the respite provider a respite payment form. After the respite care is completed, the respite provider submits the payment form to Children’s Division, and Children’s Division sends a check directly to the respite provider. For adopted children, the rate (usually $20 per day) is written into the adoption contract. The adoptive parent pays the respite provider directly. The adoptive parent then submits a form to Children’s Division for reimbursement. Please note that MFCAA’s respite program is a referral program only. Children’s Division is wholly responsible for payment to respite providers, and all questions regarding payment should first be addressed to Children’s Division.
How long does it take to become a respite provider?
The length of the process varies and depends in part on how quickly you complete the paperwork and how quickly the agencies involved act. We estimate that the average length of the entire process, from start to finish, is approximately 90 days for new respite providers, and less for currently licensed foster parents and respite providers.
Why should adopted children receive respite care?
While the need for respite care for foster children is clear, some people may wonder why adopted children need respite care. After all, they are in a stable, committed family. However, it is important to remember that these kids have been adopted from the foster care system. The numerous challenges they have, and the frustrations experienced by the parents, do not disappear when a family makes a lifetime commitment to them. The state of Missouri recognizes this, and includes a respite care subsidy in many adoption contracts.
What is the process for becoming a respite provider?
If you decide you would like to become a respite care provider, we will provide you with a user-friendly packet of information that outlines the process step-by-step. We have attempted to streamline the process and make it as hassle-free as possible for those going through it. In addition, staff at MFCAA is available to answer your questions and help you through the process at every step.
If I can’t take a child into my home, can I still help?
Yes. For a variety of reasons, many potential providers aren’t able to care for a child in their home. However, there are other options. Some foster and adoptive families prefer in-home care (in the child’s home). Also, some churches have programs that provide a monthly family night out program where church members take care of foster and adopted children at the church for an evening. Sometimes that short period of time is all that is needed to help refresh and renew parents and kids. If your church would be interested in starting a program like this, let us know and we can help you get started.
I would like more information about becoming a respite provider. Who should I contact?
We’d be happy to answer any questions you may have. Please call Dereik at Midwest Foster Care and Adoption Association at (816) 350-0215, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.