A Welcome Pause for Parents
“Research has shown that we are better dads, moms and grandparents when we take time to refill our buckets,” says Lisa McCoon, program director of Pause, an initiative of the Butler County Children and Family First Council.
Pause, a respite program for special needs families, does just that by providing breaks for caregivers while their children are being expertly cared for. The Hamilton Community Foundation recently made a $40,000 grant to Pause.
The grant monies are being used to pay personnel and to buy supplies and food for the respite events. It will also allow the program to expand to two more locations. Currently there are three respite sites in the area, but with the grant, the program will expand to five sites.
There are three respite events monthly, and each is three hours long. “I have heard so many times from parents that this is how they get through,” says Lisa, adding that Respite care for caregivers has been proven to reduce abuse, increase family functioning and decrease divorce rates.
“My son TyIer and I enjoy all the events that you have for these children,” says one parent. “Pause is the best thing to come along for these children. It helps us meet other parents and children that are like our family and is all around just a great program to be connected to.”
Pause was started in October 2014, and is the only program of its kind in Ohio. The program serves 137 families and 230 children, ranging in age from three months to 22 years.
Pause has a four part focus:
- Provide caregivers opportunities for rest.
- Support families by providing a self-discovery tool to assess needs for their family and then connect them to available resources.
- Provide community and fun to families to build family bonds with each other and other families participating in Pause.
- Train and equip volunteers and community partners to understand the needs of families with special needs children so that resources for these families are maximized.
“Unless you are living the life of having a child with a disability, you don’t get it,” says Pause Coordinator Lisa McCoon, who is also a mother to children with special needs.
A total of 381 volunteers help keep the program running smoothly. Besides respite events, Pause also provides free family fun days, I which the entire family can participate together with other families. “So many of these families live in isolation for so many reasons,” says Lisa, adding that special needs families normally spend an extra 40 to 80 hours per week caring for their children than other families.
The program supports families with special needs youngsters by providing respite care and partnering with them to grow their own natural support system.
“The respite events have given my husband and me a rare night once a month, a time when we can reconnect,” says one mom. The Family Fun events are also a blessing for my three year old son who is non-verbal. I’ve never seen him enjoy his time anywhere like he does at Pause events and I completely believe it’s because they create an environment where not a single child feels like they have special needs. They are free to be who they are and my son thrives in that.”
A teen volunteer plays a game with a participant of the Pause program
Pajama Night at the Pause program is fun for both young and old.