The Call ministry

Fostering, FFSS, Respite, Emergency: What’s the difference?

Once you start looking into the fostering world you run into a whole new set of jargon that can be confusing. Words start to sound the same and things start to blur together.

When you’re looking at how you can help you start seeing different things like foster care, Foster Family Support System, Respite Care, and Emergency Care. These four things are all important and very different roles in foster care. Each of these roles have different requirements, expectations, and commitment levels.

Foster Family

A foster family is the primary care giver when a child is in foster care. The foster family provides all the basic needs, love, and support for the child. They actively participate with the Department of Children and Family Services worker, CASA worker, and other members of the team throughout the child’s case. The foster family attends meetings, court, and visitations. To be a foster parent, you have to attend an informational meeting, complete background paperwork, complete 30 hours of PRIDE training, and participate in a home study.

Foster Family Support System

The FFSS is a family that provides support to one particular foster family — typically a family that they are close to or know personally. An FFSS can drive the family’s foster children around and care for them in their home for up to 72 hours. They will only be able to care for the specified family’s children — an FFSS will not be open to foster children. To be an FFSS, a family has to be connected with a specific foster family and given background paperwork. Once the background work is complete a walk through the home will be done.

Respite Care

A Respite Care family takes care of other family’s foster children when they need a break or are gone for an extended period of time. A family certified to do respite can keep a child for up to two weeks. A family doing respite is not open to house their own foster placements, they only care for other foster family’s children. A family that wants to do respite care MUST meet the same requirements and go through the same steps as a family opening to foster. That means completing a background check, 30 hours of training, and a home study. Once the family is open foster family’s, The CALL, and DCFS can call and schedule temporary care of foster children.

Emergency Care

A family providing emergency care is similar to respite and some families even do both. Emergency care is when DCFS asks a family to care for a child ONLY UNTIL a permanent foster family is found. It could also be caring for a child for a few days or a few weeks until the permanent foster family can take the children. A family doing only emergency care does not take permanent foster placements. To provide emergency care, a family must complete all the same training and paperwork and meet all the same requirements as a foster family.

Many foster families help each other provide respite care since there is such a need for respite and not many respite families. Foster families also tend to provide emergency care if they have a bed available. Foster families need to be able to focus on their children. We need more foster families and we also need people to provide respite and emergency care.

If you would like more information about these different roles in foster care or have any questions, message us on Facebook or call Erica at 501-288-3197 or Leigh Ann at 501-259-8845.


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