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Fostering Kids Full-Time Isn’t An Option? Consider Becoming A Respite Parent

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Courtney Hunt didn’t begin fostering kids the way most foster parents do. She saw how things worked from the administrative side, and the good she witnessed prompted her to offer her own help.

Hunt used to be a case manager for the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS). “It was during that experience that I saw the need for foster homes,” she said. “Being a family case manager, I was fairly familiar with all of the contractors that were out here. A close friend was in charge of all the LCPAs (Licensed Child Placing Agencies) and she listed three agencies weren’t in hot water with her, and Adult & Child Health was one.”

Courtney is a respite parent, which means she isn’t fostering kids in her home for extended periods, as most foster parents do. She watches foster children when their full-time foster parents need a date night or have another reason to take a break. Through A&C’s Therapeutic Foster Care program, foster parents are allowed one paid “respite day” each month.

“Anytime they need a break or they need a date night, or oftentimes when the child is recently removed and DCS is in search of placement, we provide that temporary home for the children until a more permanent home can be found in the foster care agency,” Courtney said.

What is a Respite Parent?

Courtney has been a respite parent with A&C for four years, and some times of the year are busier than others. She said she had three requests from foster parents on Valentine’s Day, as an example.

Watch Courtney’s interview on the topic with WISH-TV (Channel 8) below.

Why Fostering Kids is So Rewarding

Courtney said the most rewarding aspect of fostering kids is the connections she’s made, even though she doesn’t spend as much time with the kids as a full-time foster parent would. “Just seeing the young ladies that have come through my home has been rewarding,” Hunt said. “I’ve been able to maintain some good connections with them. One of them invited me to her open house when she graduated from high school.”

Courtney suggests anyone who’s thinking of fostering should consider the positive impact they could have on a child’s life.

“Know that you have special gifts and talents that you’re able to offer to these young people,” she said. “Parenting a child with trauma is different than parenting your own child. A&C is supportive, so don’t be afraid of it. Take time to determine what type of children you want in your home. Be honest with yourself about what you can do.”

More To Explore

Sarah Miller, PMHNP-BC

Sarah Miller works with the addictions team, general psychiatry for adolescents and adults, and the competency restoration team. She is board-certified as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. Her specialties are working in addictions and with people who experience serious mental illness.

Miller graduated from Indiana University with a psychology degree and went back to school for nursing. She received her nursing degree from Indiana Wesleyan University and worked in a nursing home and also spent time working in a group home with adolescents. She received her master’s degree from Vanderbilt University.

She enjoys hanging out with her family and her two dogs, and going to sporting events.

Joanna Chambers, MD

Dr. Joanna Chambers is a psychiatrist who began seeing Adult & Child Health patients in November 2021. She graduated from Medical College of Georgia with her Doctorate of Medicine in 1996 and completed her residency in psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine. In addition to bringing a wealth of experience, she currently serves as an associate professor at Indiana University School of Medicine where she teaches Clinical Psychiatry. She is certified in Addiction Medicine and has a special interest in treating pregnant and postpartum women. She is President of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry Organization as well as a sitting member of many medical association boards. Recently, she has won the Residents’ Award for Teaching Excellence in 2020 from Indiana University and has received “Best Doctors Award” in 2010, 2011, and 2014. Dr. Chambers is incredibly active in the medical, academic, and research realms of medicine. She is currently accepting new patients on Wednesdays.