Becoming a respite caregiver

Respite care is short-term care for a child or young person. Learn about the steps to becoming a respite caregiver.

What is respite care?

Respite caregivers are part of a community of people who care for a child or young person. Every so often they step in for a short period of time, so that everyone can have a break.

They offer a ‘second’ home, where children or tamariki can continue to feel safe, loved and cared for.

Who can be a respite caregiver?

Respite care is a great opportunity to connect tamariki or children in care with other people who are important to them – like an aunty, cousin, sibling or grandparent.

Ideally this person is someone they already know and trust from their wider family, whānau or community network.

If this isn’t possible, we’ll work with the caregiver and the child to build a positive and trusted relationship with someone who can provide safe, stable, loving respite care.

How much time do I need to commit?

Stability and certainty are really important for tamariki or children and young people or rangatahi in care.

Respite care can be unsettling for them, and we want to make sure it’s planned in advance and they know what to expect.  

Ideally we want respite caregivers who can provide consistent and regular respite care for a specific child or young person. That way they will come to trust you and your whānau or family.

It also means the caregiver can look forward to predictable and planned breaks.

The time it takes will depend on the specific needs of the caregiver and the child or young person in their care. Occasionally respite care may also be needed to support the caregiver in an emergency.

What support will I get?

Your caregiver social worker will make sure you’re supported every step of the way.

You’ll go through an assessment and approval process, and receive some training.

Support you will get includes:

  • We’ll put a Caregiver Support Plan in place to help you meet the specific needs of the child or young person in your care.
  • You’ll also see the child or young person’s plan (All About Me Plan) so that you can understand their needs and preferences.
  • Respite care arrangements will be factored into everyone’s support plans so that everyone knows what to expect and how it will work.
  • You’ll receive the Foster Care Allowance while the child or young person is in your care. This will help you cover the costs of extra food, power and entertainment.

Read our caregiver stories to find out what it’s really like

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Published: March 29, 2022