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Respite Care

Respite is an opportunity for care families to recharge their batteries and to look after themselves – ‘it is easier to run on a full tank of gas than an empty one’.

Respite can be a much needed service for caregiving families. It allows caregivers and their children to get a break, it can help prevent burnout, or in Dyadic Developmental Practice (DDP), help prevent blocked care. It can provide tamariki (children) with the opportunity to strengthen connections with significant whānau, or other significant adults, build a sense of belonging and identity, build resilience and oranga (wellbeing), and support healing from trauma.

A poorly planned respite weekend can cause stress for everyone involved; respite provider, and the foster child, along with the care family.


If you are beginning to think about needing a break, start planning, as this can take time to organise. If you leave it too long and it becomes an emergency, this can be traumatising for all involved, especially young people with attachment issues. It’s easier if there has been a visit with the respite family beforehand.

Respite should be planned and predictable for you and your children. It should contribute to the security and stability of the placement, extend your support networks and the safety networks for tamariki (children). Caregivers and tamariki (children) should make decisions about respite together and whenever possible te tamaiti (the child) should have the choice about who they stay with / where they go.

The approach to respite care arrangements needs to be considered in the context of mana tamaiti (dignity and value of the child) and occur naturally through the process of whanaungatanga (creating a sense of belonging) and whakapapa (genealogy) wherever possible.

Tip – Have the person providing respite send an invitation to the child, so that the young person is “invited to”, not ‘’sent to.” This will make the young person feel good about the respite and themselves, it’s not like they are being sent away because they are bad, or the caregiver cannot manage them.

Over the next year, caregivers who receive the Foster Care Allowance are entitled to up to 20 days respite, per child in their care. During this time, they will continue to receive board payments and the person providing the respite will also receive board payments. This took effect from Monday 1 June 2020.

How many days respite is available? 
It is for up to 20 days, two weeks and six days.

What is the process of applying?
Discussions need to occur with the Caregiver Social Worker. From that point, they will work with the caregiver and the social worker for te tamaiti (the child) to make a plan of who will provide the respite, when, and how often.

How long will it take for respite to occur?
This will depend on the plan and individual circumstances.

Do respite caregivers get paid? 
Yes, but they must be approved, not only to be paid but to provide respite. This includes whānau and friends.

Will our board payment stop while taking respite?
No, your payment will continue.

I receive the Unsupported Child Benefit or the Orphan’s Benefit?
Unfortunately, this is not available to you at this stage.


“How respite is provided could happen in a number of ways depending on your needs and the needs of the child in your care. Respite should be provided from within the whānau, hapū, iwi, or natural network of te tamaiti wherever possible, it could also in some instances be provided by way of te tamaiti attending a camp, or cultural event, or recreational activity that is of interest to them.” Rachel Hohaia, Operations Manager, Caregiver Recruitment and Support – South, Oranga Tamariki.

Caring Families Aotearoa have Regional Coordinators throughout New Zealand who are there to support YOU, our wonderful, hard working Caregivers. If you need support, or would like to chat, please give us a call on 0800 693 323.