Standards for Canadian organizations

2020 Edition

Family Foster Care and Kinship Care (CA-FKC) 22: Respite Care

Respite care reduces caregiver stress, ensures child safety and well-being, and promotes the stability of placements.
2020 Edition




Children in Family Foster Care and Kinship Care live in safe, stable, nurturing, and often temporary family settings that best provide the continuity of care to preserve relationships, promote well-being, and ensure permanency.
Note: This core concept addresses respite care provided in resource family homes licensed by the organization, as well as when the organization is working with licensed, contracted respite care providers for the children in care.
All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, as indicated by full implementation of the practices outlined in the Practice Standards.
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality; or
  • Procedures need strengthening; or
  • With few exceptions, procedures are understood by staff and are being used; or
  • For the most part, established timeframes are met; or
  • Proper documentation is the norm and any issues with individual staff members are being addressed through performance evaluations and training; or
  • Active client participation occurs to a considerable extent.
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards. Service quality or program functioning may be compromised; e.g.,
  • Procedures and/or case record documentation need significant strengthening; or
  • Procedures are not well-understood or used appropriately; or
  • Timeframes are often missed; or
  • Several client records are missing important information; or
  • Client participation is inconsistent. 
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • No written procedures, or procedures are clearly inadequate or not being used; or 
  • Documentation is routinely incomplete and/or missing.      
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Respite program model
  • Number of children permitted in respite care homes
  • Procedures for matching children with respite caregivers (or for conveying information to the program that will conduct the matching)
  • Contracts and service agreements with respite care providers, if applicable
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Respite caregivers
    4. Resource parents
  • Review case records

Fundamental Practice

CA-FKC 22.01

Children are matched with respite caregivers who can meet their needs, and: 
  1. are familiar with their daily routines, preferred foods and activities, and needed therapeutic or medical care; 
  2. respect their culture, race, ethnicity, language, religion, gender identity, and sexual orientation;
  3. offer enriching activities appropriate to their interests, age, development, physical abilities, interpersonal characteristics, culture, and special needs;
  4. work with resource parents to plan for children’s continued participation in any therapeutic, educational, or employment activities, when applicable; and
  5. have the appropriate skills and qualifications to care for children with therapeutic or medical needs, when applicable.


Organizations that do not provide respite care in their own resource family homes may not be responsible for matching, but should ensure that relevant information about the child is communicated to the respite care program to determine appropriate criteria for matching.

Fundamental Practice

CA-FKC 22.02

When respite care is provided in response to a crisis, the organization provides needed developmentally, culturally, and age-appropriate interventions to help children cope with trauma or stress associated with the crisis.
NA The organization does not provide respite care in crisis situations.

Fundamental Practice

CA-FKC 22.03

Respite caregiver homes have no more than five children total and no more than: 
  1. two children under age two;
  2. four children over age 13; and 
  3. two foster children in treatment foster care.


The total number of children includes all children under the age of 18 in the home, including both children residing in the home and children in respite care.  Exceptions to the total number of children approved to reside with the family are usually considered only to accommodate sibling groups, kinship care placements, or if the home if specially licensed by the province or territory to care for more children. 

When overnight care is provided, accommodations should include sleeping arrangements appropriate to the number, age, special needs, and gender of the individuals in the home.


Fundamental Practice

CA-FKC 22.04

When children in respite care experience accidents, health problems, or changes in appearance or behaviour, information is promptly recorded and reported to the resource parents and administration, and follow-up occurs, as needed. 

Fundamental Practice

CA-FKC 22.05

Respite caregivers return children only to the resource parents, or another person approved by the resource parents, and follow procedures for situations that pose a safety risk or when a child requires protection.
Examples: Protocols may include directions on how to engage community resources such as law enforcement or cab companies when individuals pose a safety risk, such as when individuals are intoxicated by drugs or alcohol, mentally or physically unstable, or present another safety concern.