Special needs children in the foster system were notoriously hard to place. In some cases it was the fact that the conditions were so medically complex that the average foster parent felt ill at ease with the extensive nursing care required on a round the clock basis.
Frequently the number of specialists, physicians, clinics, and rehab providers involved in the care were intimidating to the foster parent not simply because of the at home monitoring of the child that was required, but also because the time commitment that it would take to keep all the scheduled appointments appeared to be beyond the scope of one individual.
Since many willing foster parents either foster more than one child or have children of their own, engaging in the care of another child with a host of special needs is not always a viable option, in spite of their overall willingness to step up to the plate and make it happen.
To this end many a program has been devised to offer fiscal incentives to prospective foster parents, but overall the results were dismal. Although more potential foster families could be recruited, the number of those looking for the fiscal remuneration as opposed to taking seriously their responsibility to the foster child also went up.
It was not until respite care was introduced that foster families had the confidence to come forward and apply for fostering special needs children with a large number of medical and also psychological problems.
Time Out Time
In the United Kingdom and also the United States, respite care for foster families enabled the adults in the family to take some time off from caring for the affected child and simply have a night out, a weekend away, or even take a small vacation. All the while the child was in the capable hands of a trained, professional caregiver who would take over on a short term basis for the foster family.
Thus refreshed, the foster parents would return later on to take over their duties once again. This of course had not only increased the attractiveness of the foster care program, but it has also dramatically decreased the incidents of foster child abuse.
In a very real sense, foster children with special needs benefit from respite care on a number of levels: primarily they find more willing families to take them in and thus escape the group home environment and at the same time they are kept safer and will have their physical and emotion needs met by caregivers who are not subject to being frazzled by the sheet weight of the responsibility placed on them.
Another reason that respite care has been a lifesaver for foster parents is the emotional turmoil that many of the intense conditions present to the child but also to the fostering family.
Some of the children may have been impaired by their biological parents and to this end it is vital for foster parents to get away and have a chance to attend support meetings to deal with the anger, pain and sheer disbelief they have to deal with on a day to day basis tending to the child that could have had a healthy life and a brighter future, were it not for past abuse.