Faith, Hope & Charity begins scholarship drive to give parents respite
Caregivers of children with special needs in their home deserve a break to re-group, and Faith, Hope and Charity's respite program is just the place to get that breather.
The problem is that the program - which is operated by FH&C's own dedicated staff - costs $12.61 an hour, which can add up to a financial burden for a family in need of overnight or full weekend care for such a child.
Waivers are available from the state to help pay for the participation but currently there are nearly 1,500 families on the waiting list and that period can last six months to a year.
Faith, Hope & Charity personnel feel confident there is a need for the program among area parents, but they fear many won't be able to afford it until their waivers are approved.
This week, FH&C launched a fund drive aimed to help fill that need. Donations will be used toward scholarships to partially fund this specialized care for families on the waiting list.
The fundraising will begin April 19 and everyone is invited and encouraged to take part. Some 25 volunteers will be out talking with individuals and companies in pursuit of funds.
"We want as many families to benefit from the program as possible," commented Mary Sorenson-Ludwig, Faith, Hope and Charity development director.
The minimum goal is $25,000. "We hope to go above and beyond that," she said.
The respite program is unique and is utilized by families from the western third of the state. Families have the option of sharing their children with the staff for a partial weekend or for the full weekend.
Mike and Patti Todd of Storm Lake love their son, Jake, a second grader at South, very much but they relish the breaks from dealing with his autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and are so thankful for Faith, Hope & Charity and the respite program.
Jake has two sisters, Cassie, 12, and Rachel, 10 who are involved in several activities. Jake doesn't do well at outings - especially when they are longer trips. By taking part in the respite program occasionally, Mike and Patti can concentrate on their daughters and their activities while at the same time give Jake a fun environment to be in, surrounded by caring staff members and peers to play with instead of trying to force him to conforming to an environment he doesn't care for.
Patti commented that getting a sitter for Jake is an option but while the girls are involved in activities that require them to go away for a night, it is difficult to find one that can spend an entire weekend with Jake.
"The respite program is incredibly beneficial to our family," she commented.
Mike added, "It has worked out well to use respite. Jake is able to be in a more relaxed environment and it works well for everyone."
The professionals that are on duty during the respites take great care in providing an enjoyable and safe place for those children in attendance.
"There are always activities," Patti said. "They take the kids swimming and to the movies and there is a lot of one-on-one care plus there are peers around to play with and interact with. We're blessed and know he is being taken care of here. That is a big relief for our family."
It is important for the Todds to allow Jake to lead a normal life by keeping him in his loving home. Autistic children require constant attention and the breaks away rejuvenate all of the family members.
Another Faith, Hope and Charity program utilized by the family is the
Patti described Jake.
"Our son is an affectionate boy but at his choice. He is verbal but not conversational. He is a happy boy and smiles a lot. He is also playful. He is smart and is in a regular classroom with a full-time aide who modifies his program."
She added that his teachers at school and those that work him at Faith, Hope & Charity keep close tabs with each other so they all can help Jake learn to his greatest potential.
Jake's sisters, Cassie and Rachel, spend a great deal of time with their special needs brother. The girls commented that they love being around Jake and that they think he is "funny."
"Growing up with a brother with a disability is beneficial for them," Patti said, adding that the girls are more sensitive towards all people.
Jake also takes part in an after school program at the Community Service Center two to three times a week which provides a productive but fun environment where such things as school work and individual skills (brushing teeth, buttoning shirts) are taken part in.
There are approximately 50 children that participate in the respite program at different times. All types of abilities and disabilities are served.
When the volunteers approach you and ask you to help support the scholarship program - think of Jake and the other children that have benefited from respite.