Respite & Shelter Care

From a blog published 2010

For families who would like to help care for children in foster care, but are limited to caring for children for a short period of time, you might consider shelter care or respite care.

Respite Care:

Respite care refers to caring children in foster care overnight when the foster family needs a break.  This can occur for any number of reasons:  Maybe the foster parents are going out of town together and leaving all the children home.  Maybe a relative who lives out of state is seriously ill.  Or maybe the family has experienced a number of stressful days and just needs a break.

While most families might find a friend or relative their children can stay with, children in foster care are required to stay in a home that is licensed. Respite care is usually just for a day or two, but may last longer.

Because children in foster care are required to stay in state licensed homes, families who would like to provide Shelter Care or Respite Care go through the same process as all foster families.

Shelter Care:

We know that every time a child moves from one home to another, it is a traumatic experience.  Imagine packing up a handful of belongings and moving to a new family.  You are uncertain where you will live; who will care for you; will you have your own room or share with someone you don’t know; and will you be going to the same school with your friends or a new one with no friends.

For this reason, when children come into the care of the Division of Child and Family Services, caseworkers try to place them with a family where they can remain long-term.  Sometimes this is not possible, and children are placed in shelter care.

Shelter care providers care for children right after they have been removed from their bio parents’ home.  Sometimes they come with little or no clothing.  Usually they have just experienced a very traumatic event.  The children remain in shelter care while the state determines the best long-term placement.  Sometimes this is with a relative.  Sometimes it is with a foster family.  Children may be in shelter care for just a few days, or sometimes it might be a few weeks.

More Information

For more information on becoming a foster parent, visit  https://utahfostercare.org/become-a-foster-parent/more-info/ .