Family Engagement

Family Respite

Caregivers and family members are actively involved with their children with disabilities all the time. They don’t get weekends off, summer vacations, or non-work days. Families take the joys and struggles, and usually their children, with them wherever they go, in whatever they do, every day and every hour of the year. Transition teams and professionals need to be aware and respectful of this aspect. By encouraging and enabling families to take breaks, or respite, from the pressures and concerns that surround them and their children, helps to maintain that all stakeholders are able to give their best to the transition process and be the most supportive to the students.

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What Is Family Respite?

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There are times in all of our lives when we could just use a good vacation. Family respite provides family members of students with disabilities the opportunity to take a break from the demands of everyday life and do something relaxing while also ensuring that students are safe and well-cared for while they are away. Families need to know:

  • What could respite look like for a family? What respite options are available in the community or from other agencies?
  • What are some ways that students, families, and the team may benefit from respite?
  • What obstacles prevent families from knowing about and utilizing respite? What can be done to overcome those barriers?
  • How can family respite opportunities be created for families within the community? What supports and partnerships can be formed to offer those releases to families?
  • How is information being shared in a variety of ways and a family friendly format? Do families have a safe way to share information back to the team about their needs?
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Family Engagement: Family Respite

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What Does Family Respite Include?

The transition team can assist a family with respite by ensuring the team...

  • Identifies safe and supportive care for the student with disabilities while the family takes a break
  • Creates safe and encouraging ways for families to attend support groups and meetings and for families to communicate their thoughts and feelings
  • Clearly communicates support for all families in a variety of methods that is respectful of culture, perspective, and welcoming at all times
  • Includes community members and agencies who may be able to reach out to families
  • Does not require payment from families for them to take advantage of the information, connections, and opportunities to relax and lower the family’s stress
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What Can Family Respite Offer?

When the transition team helps the family with respite, the family will have...

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Individualized Care

The team identifies and shares opportunities to deal with stress and relax, based on a family’s individual needs, at no cost to the family, and in a family friendly format.

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Safe Support

The team ensures that the family feels safe about who provides respite and takes care of family members while they take a break or participate in meetings and/or opportunities for personal and family growth.

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Community Supports

The team enables family members to connect and share with other members of the community in a safe and supportive way and to grow in their leadership skills within the transition framework process

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Training Opportunities

The team creates opportunities for families to receive information through a welcoming, culturally diverse, and variety of means as well as for the family to share concerns, worries, and information back to the team in a safe and trusting environment.

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The United Way of Pennsylvania has additional information to help find respite programs near you.

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