All parents need support from family or community — from grandparents to babysitters to community organizations and recreational activities. For parents who have children with developmental disabilities this is referred to as “respite”. We do not normally refer to these experiences as “respite,” however, because this need for support is viewed as a natural part of raising children. Parents get a break and children get to grow and learn through new experiences. Extended family members and the community-at-large share in the responsibility to provide this support, as it is to the advantage of all families and the development of children. However, many families who have children with disabilities do not have ready access to these ordinary and natural supports.
The initiative is designed to assist families to develop a vision for an inclusive life in the community, including the transition to adulthood, and to create an action plan towards achieving this vision. We believe that the plan for a healthy transition to adulthood involves being immersed in the natural opportunities and pathways to adulthood experienced by youth without disabilities. The SCSF Facilitator will practically support families in taking the necessary steps to facilitate their son or daughter’s inclusion in a variety of activities such as participation in community recreation and leisure, part-time employment, membership in clubs, groups, faith communities, etc. When necessary, the facilitator will assist the family to recruit support staff to facilitate their son or daughter’s meaningful engagement in community. The initiative will also work with community organizations and businesses to enhance their capacity to enable and facilitate the inclusion of people with developmental disabilities.
The benefits of respite care, planning and community inclusion are substantial and well documented. These include sustaining the integrity of the family; strengthening the family; preventing family breakdown; reducing the risk of abuse and neglect in the home; and creating natural sustainable networks of support that extend beyond the child’s youth and into adulthood.
On an economic level, the cost associated with the provision of respite is trivial relative to the cost of services that must be provided to care for children outside their home as well as the economic loss incurred by families when parents are unable to work as a consequence of insufficient respite.
If you have any questions about our Supportive Communities: Strengthening Families initiative or if you would like more information on how to get involved, please contact one of our facilitators.
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