Foster kids come in a wide variety of ages and backgrounds. Some have special needs. This is why specialized foster care exists – to provide specialized care for children that need extra support due to medical or emotional conditions.

What types of conditions are considered when determining if a child needs specialized foster care?

Children who have physical or emotional disabilities, or those who have medical conditions, are in need of specialized foster care. These conditions can include cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, or significant cognitive disabilities, severe emotional and/or behavioral needs, or illnesses that require complex treatment.

What types of specialized foster care are available?

There are a variety of designations given to people who provide specialized foster care.

Child Developmental Home Providers care for children with long-term disabilities, including cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, or significant cognitive disabilities.

Children with significant medical needs require care providers who are certified as Medically Complex.

If a child has severe emotional and/or behavioral needs, they will need a foster parent that is certified as a Therapeutic Foster Care Provider.

To become a Medically Complex, Therapeutic, or Child Developmental Home, there are stricter requirements, as well as a need for schedule flexibility, experience, and training.

What if a family providing foster care needs a break?

Respite homes provide short-term care for children in need of specialized foster care. Families or providers can give respite care in their own homes if they are licensed foster care providers. Or, a licensed respite provider can provide the care in the existing foster home so the child doesn’t have to be moved.

Why do respite foster care homes and providers exist?

When a foster family cannot provide care for their foster child(ren) on a short-term basis, they may utilize respite care. Examples include business trips, family emergencies, or when a family needs a break. Respite typically lasts only a few days to a week.

What are the requirements for a respite home?

Respite families that provide care in their own home must meet all of the same requirements as a regular foster family. If you want to provide respite in the foster family’s home, then your home and family do not need to be licensed.

An agency can help you determine if you would be a good fit as a specialized foster care parent, and/or as a respite provider.


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