In-Home Specialized Care to Give Caregivers a Break

family-chairSarasota/Manatee Respite Services (SMRS) is the Family Network on Disabilities’ comprehensive in-home respite care program. Through this program, a trained respite care worker provides occasional, temporary relief care to a child or children with a developmental or functional disability. This support allows parents and caregivers of children with disabilities and special needs to take a break, rest, or engage in other relaxing alternatives to their everyday situation, thus reducing the physical, emotional, and psychological stress they may experiencing.

Other benefits of respite include:

  • New experiences for the family member with a disability or special needs
  • Stronger sibling relationships
  • Relief during illness
  • Help with appointments, errands, and attending to household duties
  • Opportunities for parents to spend time together and revitalize their relationship
  • Time for parents to be with other siblings in the home

If you are uneasy about receiving respite care, understand everyone needs rest and relaxation once in a while. Some families may be reluctant to use respite because of a feeling of discomfort over what they see as relinquishing control over their child’s safety and well-being. Parents and caregivers who feel this way should know that staying home is also a perfectly acceptable use of respite services. You may prefer to do housework, pay bills, or read a book. Parents may also want to ease into using our respite services and gain confidence. Our goal is to make you feel secure enough to leave your child with a respite care worker respite_formwhen you are ready.

Criteria for Receiving Respite
When you contact Sarasota/Manatee Respite Services through our online intake form, the Family Liaison will contact you within 48 hours of submitting your intake form to review your information and provide you with details about the availability of respite services. When services are available you will be sent an enrollment packet to complete and return to us. Once you have completed and returned the enrollment packet, SMRS will work with you to schedule an in-home visit to complete the enrollment process and provide you with additional information about our program. The enrollment packet and in-home intake will then be used to assess the need for service, match your family with a respite care worker, identify any other concerns, and guide your family to additional resources if necessary.

Currently, the program serves children from birth to age 18. These children might have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), behavioral conditions, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Sensory Integration Disorder, physical impairment, cerebral palsy, and developmental delays. Moreover, the program serves the entire family of a child with a disability, including siblings. SMRS is only available to residents of Sarasota and Manatee counties.

Services are provided in one six-hour visit or two three-hour visits per month, unless an alternative funding source is available. A program fee for service is charged for your visit and is based on a sliding scale. A copy of your most recent income tax return will be required in order to determine your program fee. If you cannot pay the program fee, you may apply for a hardship scholarship, and a copy of your income tax return will still be required for a hardship consideration. No family is denied services due to an inability to pay.

All families participating in the SMRS program are required to complete a quality assurance survey four times a year.

If you have further questions about the program, please contact Family Liaison, Margaret Azouz, at (941) 704-9223 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., or by email.

About Our Respite Care Workers
All respite care workers receive training and certification in:

  • First Aid, CPR, universal precautions and medication dispensing
  • Behavioral training from a Certified Behavioral Analyst
  • Occupational therapy and sensory integration

All respite care workers are personally interviewed, drug screened, fingerprinted, and go through State of Florida and FBI background checks. To print a job application click here.

What Our Families Say
In a letter of support written to Family Network from one of our respite families a mom said:  “Family lives very far away and we can’t rely on your typical neighborhood babysitters to watch our special needs children. This program provides experienced people to care for our children in times when we both need to leave our home without taking our children with us. I also know they are in good hands so I can attend meetings such as the Parent Mentoring and Support Program or receive face-to-face help when I have questions and need to speak to someone about an IEP.”

A single mom wrote to us: “As a single parent with no family or friend support whatsoever … this program has helped me get my “Zen” back.  I’d been feeling very fatigued and run-down for a while but now that I can safely leave my children with a proper caregiver, and I can go back to attending my yoga classes. Thank you!”

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