The road to becoming a foster family isn't an overnight thing. It takes time...lots of time and patience. Sometimes there are snags and bumps in the road which make the process to finish even that much longer.
So, while we were waiting for everything to be finalized, we signed up to babysit and for respite care.
Babysitting a foster child(ren) is a short term thing you can do for a foster family. It usually entails just a few hours with NO overnight care so a foster mom can run a few errands while kid-free or a dad can spend time with an older child without chasing a little one around. It very much like regular babysitting.
Respite care is more involved. It can be a few days to a few weeks and usually includes overnight stays. It's an opportunity to give a foster family a longer break or take care of their foster children if they are not able to bring them along. We had the pleasure of helping a foster family out with their precious little one for 3 weeks while they visited their grown children in China. After T-baby went home, we had the pleasure of doing respite care for just a few days for another sweet little one whose family was recovering from a sickness they did not want T-man to get.
Respite care is an awesome way to 'get your feet' wet in regards to foster care. You don't have the full-blown responsibilities yet, but you have enough to get a taste of what fostering is all about. For many, it can be a springboard into full time foster care.
Perhaps you haven't been called to full-blown foster care, but maybe, just maybe, you have been called to babysit or to do respite care. There is certainly a need for these things and doing this for a foster family would be such a blessing.