By Anglican Family Care | Posted: Sunday March 5, 2023
Anglican Family Care is a social services agency that has served Otago tamariki and their whānau since 1970. Our purpose is to provide social and therapeutic support to whānau from diverse backgrounds, to restore wellbeing and enhance their social resiliency. The whānau and tamariki we support are often experiencing challenging circumstances, such as neglect, isolation, substance abuse, mental or physical health issues, poverty, or family violence.
One of the ways we support whānau is through providing temporary care for children. Caregiver Liaison Social Worker Rose Scott organises respite and short-term care for tamariki up to 17 years in the greater Dunedin area. This service recognises that a regular planned break from parenting can provide a chance for someone to recharge in order to be able to be the best parent they can be. Whānau who receive respite care are engaged with support services, either our own or those from other organisations, and are actively working on making changes for their whānau so their tamariki can thrive.
Rose is passionate about the benefits of the respite service at Anglican Family Care, and her work supporting caregivers. Unfortunately, a serious shortage of caregivers has meant that sometimes the service has been unable to meet the needs of whānau.
The shortage is likely due to a combination of things, including people having busier lives, as well as the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Another factor may be the perception of caregiving, as the many positive stories of how families benefit from respite care go under the radar. These issues have all impacted on the capacity to attract short-term caregivers.
Our Caregivers provide care for a variety of ways including emergency/crisis care, respite care and short-term care. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but many parents we work with have little or no family or other natural supports to call on if they need a break. This is due in part to families moving around more than they did in the past, so people live further away from their “village”. This isolation from natural supports can affect parents’ ability to cope with juggling the stressors that life brings, especially if they are dealing with difficult life circumstances.
This is where regular respite care can really make a difference to tamariki and their whānau as a whole. Respite can occur in various different ways, providing up to 28 nights, usually spread over a weekend a month or fortnightly. There are also occasions where a block of time may be required, such as one or two weeks, or requests from Oranga Tamariki. Arranging a respite placement has to work for both the parent, child, and the caregiver and their family, so people feel comfortable. Caregivers always have the option to decline a placement request if they feel that it doesn’t fit in with their own whānau’s composition or commitments.
There is no standard type of caregiver – you don’t have to be in a relationship, have a big house or a car, or to have tamariki of your own. If you can commit yourself wholeheartedly to meeting a child’s needs, then you could be just who we are looking for. The caregiving relationship is very special, and really rewarding, you just need to be open to learning, and honest about how things are going. Caregivers are provided with 24/7 support, on-going training opportunities, and undergo induction into the role.
“Offering respite care to parents, grandparents or caregivers and their children has been a fantastic experience for us with the opportunity to offer some support to those families. Our own children have very much enjoyed the opportunity to meet and play with these kids too and we know that their caregivers have received a very much deserved day or two off from the pressure that they have been under. A very rewarding experience for our whole family.”
Doug – a caregiver
National Foster Care Awareness Week provides an opportunity to thank all Caregivers for their extraordinary hard work and commitment as they provide tamariki with security and positive experiences to help them grow and develop within a family environment.
If you have room in your whānau for one more and want to know more about becoming a caregiver for Anglican Family Care, contact Rose today or fill out an Expression of Interest form for more information.