One of the common questions we get from those less familiar with fostering is ‘What is respite care? Is it the same as babysitting? Does it really help foster families?’
Firstly, Upbring appreciates our foster parents who go above and beyond for the kids in their home every day. Yet even superheroes need a break sometimes– such as the ability to go out one evening, attend a training, go to a company party or just go to the grocery store without children. While other parents can call any babysitter, this isn’t an option for foster parents, who must use certified providers. To meet this need, we are so thankful for the support our foster parents are receiving through Fostering Hope’s Foster Care Babysitting Certification. These streamlined, one-day trainings allow families in the Austin area to get certified to babysit for multiple foster care agencies at once! This makes it easy to support families in your community who have opened their homes and hearts to kids in care!
So what’s the difference between babysitting, respite care, and other forms of support? As we are asked this question often, we’ve clarified a few definitions (below).
What is Babysitting? What is Respite Care?
Babysitting is short-term childcare, and is distinct from respite care. Respite care providers can be used for longer-term placements. Texas DFPS defines these terms as:
1. Respite Care
Infrequent but planned round-the-clock care by a caregiver, can be for more than 72 hours, intended to provide relief to the primary caregiver (AKA “Intermittent Alternate Care”).
Infrequent short-term care, under 72 hours.
3. Regular Alternate Care
Regular care for the child (such as by other adult household members, or a daycare provider) at least four hours a day, three or more times a week and for more than nine consecutive weeks.
Why It Matters
Respite care, babysitting, and regular alternate care are important ways to support foster families (and break the cycle of child abuse) because it helps to reduce stress, decrease conflict, and ease logistical challenges such as transportation. It is always a great way explore if you are ready to open your heart to becoming a foster parent someday!