The invaluable contributions of Foster Carers providing regular and ongoing Respite Care to children and young people are sometimes overlooked. But truthfully, if it takes a Village to raise a child, they are cornerstones of this Village for children and young people.
We can’t overstate how valuable it is for young people to have caring adults investing in their lives in various capacities. In fact, world-renowned neuroscientist and child-trauma researcher, Dr Bruce Perry, highlights the direct correlation between the quality and quantity of therapeutic relationships in a child’s life as the determining factor in a young person’s long term success of finding healing from adversity and realising their right to thrive.
Therapeutic Relationships is one of Lutheran Care Foster Care Services’ Pillars of Practice. Our practice stems from this because we acknowledge that it is through relationships where young people experience felt safety, acceptance and attunement with caregivers that all other healing, therapy and supports will be most effective. Children and young people need patient and caring adults to invest in them in the long term, for their best chance of realising healing and growth in the long term.
And regular Respite Carers, showing up consistently for one or two weekends a month, exemplify this aspect of the Village.
For more than three years, Amanda and Sean have provided Respite Care two weekends a month to four children, currently aged 11-16. The couple provides care to sisters one weekend, and two boys another weekend. Amanda and Sean are actively engaged in the Care Team of all four children, providing unique insights into the lives of each individual in their care.
The Department for Child Protection Case Worker assigned to one of the boys shares the following insights into Amanda and Sean’s commitment, and how valuable they are to the young people in their care.
“I just want to emphasise that Amanda and Sean are both amazing carers who provide a high level of trauma-informed care for the young person in their care,” the Case Worker shares.
“He tells me he very much enjoys the time he spends with Amanda and Sean and that it is like a second home for him.”
Two of the four children the couple regularly provide Respite Care for are currently in a Residential Placement. On a Respite weekend with Amanda and Sean, the young people can exhale from the sometimes chaotic nature of Residential Living and experience all the goodness of a kind, loving and nurturing family environment. These experiences for young people plant seeds that can result in long term and life transforming impacts.
“We’ve both always felt that we should help the less fortunate and try to encourage others too. We just wish there were more who helped as well,” Sean and Amanda say.
Many people considering fostering for the first time start out providing Respite Care. It’s a wonderful way to support Long Term caring families, while gently adjusting to a new rhythm of life that fostering brings. However, Respite Care is not primarily a service to carers who need a break from the challenges of caring for a child with complex needs – it’s a loving and generous gift to a young person, for them to know there are more people in their Village than their parents and carers who care for them, see potential in them and are willing to invest in their lives.
Thank you Amanda and Sean, and all other Respite Carers, who do this so quietly, consistently and beautifully. Thank you for being the Village.
Interested in becoming a Respite Carer? Find out more and join the Village here.