Help for Special Needs Families
Children with special needs need extra special care. Not only can there be physical demands when caring for your child with special needs, but there are also mental and financial strains. When you need time to run errands or for some much-needed self care, it’s important to find someone qualified to care for your child. Here are some resources to help you find respite care and peace of mind.
A Mother’s Rest: Serves all parents and caregivers across the entire spectrum of extra needs. This respite retreat inn offers affordable, three-night bed and breakfast respite retreats.
Bennett’s Place Interactive Learning Center: Services include an after-school program, respite care, art therapy, field trips, vocational training programs and more.
ConnectAbility: Their Sidekicks program is a respite care program designed for children and adults with special needs and their siblings with snacks, activities and special visitors. Free, themed nights have included movie night, prom, fiesta, hometown heroes and Halloween costume contest.
Easterseals: Offers respite services allowing both caregivers and the people for whom they’re caring the opportunity to relax, recharge and reconnect. These programs include support groups and retreats for caregivers, and sleep-away camps and overnight stays.
First Baptist Church Woodstock: On drop-off Wednesday nights, children engage with their peers in Bible, art, music and play rooms.
FOCUS: Offers families specialized childcare, information, community resources, activities, equipment and more. They hope to bring back their Extra Special Saturday Respite program in spring 2022, a childcare service for children ages 1-12 with special needs.
InCommunity: Direct care programs include adult day programs, residential options, family support funding, supported employment, respite care, community living support, crisis support and behavior support. Respite providers are trained, experienced caregivers who provide care for a few hours a week, a weekend respite or for up to a week.
Lekotek of Georgia: Their Computer Club program for ages 8-15 is for children with disabilities and peer mentors to get together to enjoy technology related activities and a pizza dinner.
Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta: The Blonder Family Department for Special Needs is led by a team of professionals featuring specialized programs and events for children and adults with special needs, including arts and crafts, annual trips, movie nights and more.
Restore Place: Offers parents of children with special needs or life-threating illnesses a two-night stay at a local bed and breakfast.
Southwest Christian Care: Their programs include the Hope House Children’s Respite to give the parents of special needs children rest and the educational program, Ms. Gussie’s Place, for children with multiple different abilities.
Special Needs Cobb: Operates a facilities-based weekend respite house for special needs children and adults with special “minors only” weekends for ages 8 and older.
Spectrum: Offers a Saturday Respite Day Camp with social activities, arts and crafts, music, outdoor play and group activities for children ages 4 to young adult.
YourRespite: Provides in-home care for children with special needs up to age 19. They serve 14 different areas around metro Atlanta, and services include hourly daytime care, hourly evening care, overnight care and multi-day care.
Taking Care of the Caregiver
Don’t try to do it alone. It can be difficult to admit the extent of your child’s needs and the difficulty you may be having. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Be honest about your child’s challenges and support you need, so the people around you can help you.
Make sure to take time for yourself. Caregivers should plan ahead to schedule breaks. Plan how you want to spend your time, so it is beneficial and restorative to you. Get a pedicure, go out to lunch, or pick up an old hobby for meaningful “me time.”
Look into a parent co-op. These groups consist of families who take turns watching each other’s kids. If you’re looking to start one, support groups for families with your child’s condition are a good place to meet other families. Consider asking for help from extended family, friends or neighbors, and give them the training they need to care for your child.
Have a plan. Emergency or crisis respite may be more difficult to find for a child with special needs, so familiarize yourself with providers who might offer emergency respite, or register in advance with such providers.
Do your research. There are a myriad of services available for special needs families, so familiarize yourself in order to choose the best options for your family. Extended respite options may be better for those who require skilled care, while in-home, time-limited options will allow you to take a break or run errands. Formal programs hire and train their staff, while informal programs may include volunteer or faith-based initiatives, parent cooperatives or cash subsidies.
Interview and ask questions of your potential caregiver. Have they been trained? Are they capable of administering medications, assisting with medical tasks or daily living needs? Are they willing to engage in or offer activities or companion services? Are they willing to transport the care recipient? What hours and days are services available? What is the eligibility process? What are the fees and how are they paid? How are emergencies and problems handled? If you are considering respite services outside the home, request a tour beforehand.
Check your funding options. Georgia’s waiver programs financially help people with several core services including respite care. Learn more at medicaid.georgia.gov/programs/all-programs/waiver-programs. Special Needs Respite provides funds to pay qualified caregivers of special needs children when there’s a funding gap. Check out benefits.gov for a questionnaire to help you find benefits you may be eligible to receive.