Emergency shelter care is short-term foster care, up to 90 days, for children in need of immediate placement. Children come into care in need of this kind of placement due do placement disruption or removal and no known relatives or kin at the time of placement need.

Children in need of emergency shelter care have experienced recent trauma, related to:

  • Physical or sexual abuse and/or neglect Removal from birth-parents
  • Placement disruption
  • Runaway experience
  • (i.e. limited food resources, either no shelter or “couch hopping”, etc.)
  • Sexual exploitation/trafficking
  • Separation from siblings and/or family, etc.

Children in need of emergency shelter care often have high needs, due to traumatic experiences. Some of these behaviors/needs include:

  • Aggression towards adults and/or other children
  • Sexualized behaviors
  • Developmental delays
  • High medical needs
  • Self-harm behaviors and/or suicidal ideation

Things to know before considering providing emergency shelter care:

  • Limited information is available upon the time of needed placement.
  • Not all behaviors are known. Behaviors that were not presented at the time of placement may arise.
  • It may take some time for the child/children’s school transportation to be coordinated. In that way, the provider(s) will be responsible for transporting the child/children in care to-from school until the transportation is set up. In some cases, the child/children in care will need to be re-enrolled/registered for school. This may require a provider to coordinate childcare or stay home with the child/children until school registration is complete.

In determining if you are the right fit for emergency shelter care, reflect on the following:

  • Are you flexible? Does your schedule allow for flexibility? Are you willing to receive phone calls in the middle of the night or on weekends?
  • Are you comfortable with accepting a placement with limited information?
  • Do you have a good understanding of the capacity and age-range limits of your license?
  • Do you have a good understanding of your own capacity and limits? Which behaviors would cause you to disrupt a placement? Do you have triggers to certain experiences and/or behavior?
  • Do you have other children (children in care, birth, and/or other children) within your home? How will they be impacted by children moving in and out of the home frequently? How will they be impacted by the above behaviors?
  • Have you completed any training specifically related to emergency shelter care or behavior de-escalation/management techniques? Are you willing to complete training around this?

Download a copy of Emergency Shelter Care Tips