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What to Ask When You Get "The Call" - Questions for Your Agency

You're licensed. And now you're waiting.

Waiting to get a call for your first (or second, or third) respite care placement.

When that phone rings, you might be flooded with anticipation and nerves as you frantically look for a pen to write down the details from your worker.

It will make your life SO much easier to have a list of questions handy when that call comes. If you don't have questions prepared, one (if not all) of these things WILL happen:

  • You'll hang up the phone and instantly think of questions you wish you asked.

  • When you go to discuss the case with your spouse, they'll ask, "What about ____?" or "Did you ask about _____?"

  • The child(ren) will arrive at your home and something will happen that'll make you think, "I should've asked about this!"

foster care worker

Pro Tip: Do not rely on the agency to tell you everything you want to know.

They may only offer the child's gender, age, and the dates needed for respite care. Most agency workers have massive caseloads. They're juggling so much that they're going to share "the bare minimum" - not to make your life difficult but because (1) they probably don't know many details anyway, and (2) they're trying to quickly fill a need. It's up to you to ask the right questions.

Pro Tip: Keep a list of questions on your phone AND in printed form.

You never know where you're going to be when you get "the call." If you have a printed list of questions in your kitchen drawer, chances are you'll get "the call" while you're driving to work and you won't have the questions handy. So, keep a pen and a printed copy of questions in your car, at your office and at home. Additionally, keep a google document of questions that you can pull up anytime.

And now, the questions you've been waiting for!

Questions to Ask the Agency for a Respite Foster Care Placement

These questions are intended to be asked IN ORDER. For example, the agency worker doesn't need to spend time explaining the child's medical history if you're going to be out of town during the respite dates.


  1. Name

  2. Gender

  3. Age

  4. Dates of the placement (you will also confirm these dates with the foster parents; in one instance, our agency gave us the wrong "end date" and we didn't realize it until the foster parent said "see you Tuesday!" when we thought they were picking the kids up Sunday)

  5. Name of daycare / school (if placement is during the week)

  6. Appointments / visits during their stay (doctor, therapist, family visits)


  1. Medical conditions - current or suspected

  2. Allergies

  3. Medications

  4. Behavioral tendencies if known

  5. Safety concerns with pets or other children


You could ask these questions in your initial call with the agency, OR you could wait until you call the agency back to accept the placement. It depends on whether or not the answers are "dealbreakers" for you (and in many cases they won't be / shouldn't be).

  1. How long have they been in foster care? (gives insight on how recent their removal was and how long they've been in a stable environment)

  2. How long have they been with their current foster family? (Gives insight on the number of homes they've stayed in; if they just moved, the foster parents may not know much about the child. You may not be able to find out their likes / dislikes / behavioral tendencies / etc., unless they've been with this family for several months or more.)

  3. Do you know where the foster parents are going during respite care and if they'll be accessible by phone call? (It's just nice to know if the foster parents will be close by / far away. If they're on a cruise or in an area with limited cell reception, you'll know to call the agency first if needed).

  4. Where does the foster family live (same town, or farther away)? (Because of the lack of respite homes available, you may be watching a child from a neighboring town or county. Rather than the foster parent coming to your home, you may need to meet them halfway somewhere.)

  5. Can you share the foster parents' name / phone number? (They may just say the foster parent will reach out "soon" - but asking for this info is helpful in case you have questions before the foster parent gets around to reaching out to you.)

Once you're able to speak with the child(ren)'s foster parent, you'll ask them a different set of questions. To see a list of questions for the foster parent, click HERE (coming soon).

I will be compiling these questions into a free template soon! Follow along on Instagram @respitefostermom so you won't miss the release!

Emily | Respite Foster Mom


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