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Respite care providers integral to child welfare system

Posted at 4:50 PM, Jan 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-29 20:32:45-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Erin Priour and her husband were foster parents up until they adopted a young boy to join their two children, two years ago. After that, they knew they wanted to continue to help by becoming respite care providers.

“There’s just a lot of things to balance as a foster parent, but it’s so worth it," she said.

On Saturday morning, Agape Ranch held their bi-annual respite care provider training at Community Faith Church on Weber Road.

These are the people who become the support system for foster parents.

“My own children love it," Priour said. "They are excited when we have a baby or a toddler or some other child coming to our home for a short time. It’s been a great blessing to us and our family."

“We also just want the respite care providers to know that their part, in a foster child’s story and in a foster parent’s life, can be the difference between a foster parent staying a foster parent or choosing to close their home,” Jessica Blakeslee said, program coordinator for Agape Ranch.

Did you know it’s actually quite common for foster parents to have burnout? In a study by Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting, it was found as high as 50 percent of foster parents close their homes. Respite care providers are here to prevent that.

“Whether it’s babysitting, helping make a meal, just being there to have a listening ear and watching their children overnight, so that they can go on vacation, have a little bit of a break,” Blakeslee said. "Sometimes even just taking the kiddo for a little bit so the parents can have a nap."

"We have to go through lots of training and background checks and certifications because foster parents are not allowed to leave their children with just anyone," said Priour. "There has to be a certified provider. So, being able to be a certified provider means that foster parents get the break that they need. So that they can continue the sometimes difficult and challenging work they're doing."

Care providers have to be certified by the Texas Department of Family and Protective services.

Respite care providers are essential for foster parents to continue because, as has been the case for some time, more foster parents are needed.

“Maybe they would have visitation with their families and their could be a greater hope for reunification," Priour said. "But those kids are having to go to the valley, their going to Houston, they’re going to San Antonio because there aren’t homes for them here. So, I think if we’re going to really make a difference in the child welfare system, we need to have foster parents. We need to have respite care providers.”

If you’re interested in becoming a respite care provider you can check out Agape Ranch.

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