Respite foster care is when one foster family cares for the foster children of another foster family allowing the first family a break. This type of foster care is especially helpful when foster children have behaviors such as seen in many therapeutic foster homes.
Our social worker contacted us on Wednesday to ask if we were available for respite. She shared that she was looking for respite for 1 of 3 siblings living approximately 35 minutes away. We happily agreed. Respite seems just about our speed these days. Its allows us to focus on daily stuff with Daffy and continue a relationship with Donald, yet still be able to help other kids in care.
As a side note, we happen to know this sibling group as they were previously placed at the same group home that Donald and Daffy lived at. Our agency had set us up with this family upon the kid’s placement in january, in part because the kids knew each other and in part because this family was about 5 months ahead of us in the process. Our agency was thinking they could be a good resource family for us. We saw them a couple of times and the foster mom and I attended a support group together once. I didn’t see them as a great resource, though, as we were in very different places with our kids. Their sibling group was still waiting for TPR, while our kids had been legally free for adoption for 4 years. This family also did not have any biological children (or any children at all) before they accepted the challenge of this sibling group, so we didn’t have a lot of common ground.
Alice (age 12) arrived with her foster father around 6pm. He carried in her backpack and let me know she would not get out of the car and asked that I talk to her. I wasn’t convinced that there would be anything I could do to get her out of the car, but decided to give it a try. I knocked on her window and waved excitedly. I reached for the door handle and she unlocked the door. I decided to pretend there wasn’t a single odd thing about her still sitting there as we chatted. It took nearly an hour, but she did finally agree to come out of the car.
Her foster father had removed himself from the situation (I am guessing he thought this would help?) and was around the side of the house. Alice went to look for him to say good bye and even gave him a hug. She came in just after the rest of the family had eaten dinner and she refused to eat, but did sit with Daffy & I at the table and made pleasant conversation. Next, we made home made ice cream and then her & Daffy swam for a little while. I let the girls watch a movie before bed and they went to bed without any trouble.
The next morning our social worker stopped by to see how things were going. She shared that Alice was on the verge of disruption from her foster family and that the team was considering placing her in a residential treatment center. My heart broke for her, but I knew how hard things must be at the foster home for the family to consider that, especially after having had her in their home for a year.
Unfortunately, due to a crisis with Tink (I will blog about this in another post), Mickey cared for the girls for most of the remainder of the day. The girls, again, went to bed without any issue that night. I was happy to get to talk to the foster mom after the girls went to bed. She shared that they had made a lot of hard decisions and had decided to keep Alice in the home!!!! I was thrilled to hear the news and happily agreed that we would provide ongoing respite to support their family through this difficult time.
The next morning, our social worker stopped by once again. (Seeing her two days in a row reminded me of the first few weeks after Donald & Daffy’s placement). While technically this was our regularly scheduled meeting, it gave us a great opportunity to catch up on both girls (Daffy and Alice). The sw told me that she had suggested to the foster mom (and team) that we attend Alice’s team meeting coming up later this month. I gladly agreed. I am happy to support both Alice and her foster family and I feel I will be able to do a better job of providing ongoing respite if I have some idea of whats going on. Our sw also outlined a little more clearly what she is hoping the monthly schedule would look like:
Week 1: Alice here for weekend
Week 2: Alice’s 2 younger sisters here for weekend
Week 3: Alice here for weekend
Week 4: No respite
Ummmm, wow. I had already agreed to help before knowing all the details (will be sure to ask up front next time, LOL) so there really wasn’t much to discuss other than whether or not the state will pay to cover that much respite. Our sw believes they will because this will save the state a substantial amount of money over Alice being moved to a residential setting (very sad that it’s about the almighty dollar, but I am happy that Alice is staying put for the time being).
Mickey and I believe we are up for the challenge, although there is a part of me that hopes that things for this family will settle down within a few months, allowing US to go back to our “regularly scheduled program.” I am also nervous that as she becomes more comfortable with us, we will begin to see her challenging behaviors. We’ll just take it one weekend at a time and hope we can make a difference even if only in a small way.