Supporting Family and Caregivers: Respite Services

As a single mother of three children under the age of three and with another on the way, Kristine needed help. Her time for self-care and just taking care of the basics like cleaning the house or shopping for groceries was non-existent. Something had to give.
Respite Picture

It was just a few months ago when Kristine was referred to Bridges of Hope. Funded by Crow Wing County Community Services, Bridges of Hope has an established Respite care program to help parents like Kristine who need someone to step in and help care for their children on a temporary basis.

At Bridges, Respite is a scheduled, monthly break for families based upon a child’s or parent’s need, serving families in Crow Wing County. On occasion, Respite can be scheduled more often, on a case-by-case basis. Respite care providers are licensed by Crow Wing County and step in to care for a child or children for up to 24 hours. That child is then returned home after the Respite “placement,” unlike a foster care situation. The goal of the program, at its core, is to provide caregivers a break to rejuvenate, refresh and get self-care.

As many as 95% of children receiving Respite care through Bridges have mental health concerns or diagnoses. Right now, ~40 households are utilizing Respite for their children and have anywhere between one and six children in the house. Of those cases, approximately 15%-20% of these households are also simultaneously working with Child Protection in some capacity.

Bridges of Hope currently works with 13 licensed providers living in Brainerd, Crosby and Nisswa – ranging from day care settings to individuals – to provide Respite care. Families can also self-identify an outside person to serve as their Respite provider, as long as they complete and pass the necessary background check.

One respite care provider has a farm and offers fun and new opportunities for children. Another provider brings children in his temporary care to church on Sundays. And another participates in building workshops at Home Depot.

“Our providers are very much involved with these families and they treat them like they would their own family,” a Bridges of Hope staffer noted. “They can also provide the children with experiences they might not have in their home setting, due to their parents’ work schedules or their siblings’ needs.”

After Kristine’s children started receiving Respite care, she finally found time she could carve out for cleaning and organizing her home. During that time, she was also able to spend one-on-one time with her new baby after its birth. The Respite program has allowed her to take better care of herself; and in turn, has helped her to become a better mom.

For more information on Respite, contact Bridges of Hope at (218) 825-7682 or visit our website.

 

Advertisements

Gordon and Rhonda’s Moment

Crisis Nursery Services Logo

This year marks the 10th year that Bridges of Hope has been offering Crisis Nursery Services to the Brainerd Lakes Area. Yes, you read right–TEN YEARS! That’s a decade of giving parents a safe childcare option during a family crisis, which translates into thousands of children placed into the loving care of our selfless providers since the start of the program.

So what exactly is Crisis Nursery? It is a safe, positive childcare option for parents that have nowhere else to turn. There are Crisis Nurseries all around the state of Minnesota, and while they all operate a little bit differently, they also all have one thing in common: the goal to keep kids safe while providing stability to parents during a stressful time.

What defines a crisis? A crisis can be a single mom needing a break and not having friends or family who can provide her with that break. It can be a medical issue preventing a parent from caring for their children as they normally do. Or it can be work & medical related, like Gordon & Rhonda’s situation:

Gordon called one afternoon sounding extremely stressed; his voice full of concern. He explained to me that his wife Rhonda recently had had surgery, and during her recovery she had very limiting lifting restrictions. Gordon said that not only was Rhonda unable to do normal, routine tasks; she also wasn’t able to lift their ten-month-old son. Gordon said their family members had been helping out as much as possible, but there was a day coming up when he had to work and no other family members were available to help with childcare. Gordon said it was one of those family members that told him about the Crisis Nursery Services provided by Bridges of Hope.

Ames_3410 Gordon had already taken some time off work and if he missed another shift, he was afraid he would be suspended from his job, so he was wondering if the family could use Crisis Nursery for his ten-month-old son and three-year-old twin daughters while he was at work. Gordon explained that he only needed help for one day, as his mother was coming to stay with them for about a week until Rhonda had recovered enough for her doctor to lift her restrictions. I assured Gordon that this was an appropriate situation for Crisis Nursery Services; and after a few phone calls to various childcare providers, an available provider was located. Gordon let out a HUGE sigh of relief when I told him a provider was available to care for his children.

We always attempt to follow up with parents and providers after they’ve used the Crisis Nursery, to make sure everything went smoothly, see how they are doing, and to make sure the situation has been fully resolved. Almost 90% of parents surveyed report feeling less stressed, thanks to Crisis Nursery Services.This was certainly true for Gordon:

When I followed up with Gordon the day after using Crisis Nursery, he said he was so relieved that he didn’t have to miss another day of work, and he was able to focus at work knowing that his children were in good hands. Gordon said his daughters loved the childcare provider because she was kind, caring, and she had a dog! Gordon expressed his thanks one more time and said he knows where to turn if he is ever in an emergency situation like this again.

_________________________________

If you or someone you know could benefit from more information about our Crisis Nursery Services, please call 218.825.7682 to speak with one of our Resource Specialists, or visit our website.

Want to help ensure these services remain available for those who need them? Make a donation today!

Crisis Nursery to the Rescue!

Sally called Bridges of Hope, crying hysterically. She is the mother of three children: Jackie (age 7), Holly (age 5), and Tim (age 3). I had previously worked with Sally for several months through one of Bridges of Hope’s in-home programs,  which is why she asked to speak with me on this particular morning. Sally explained that her 5-year-old, Holly, had been taken to the emergency room the night before because she had been exhibiting very violent behavior toward her two siblings, and she also had begun inflicting self-harm, banging her head against the floor. Holly had been examined by the ER doctors and then transported to a mental health facility several hours away. Sally wanted to be able to go to the facility to stay near her daughter while she received treatment, but she did not have any friends or family member available to watch her children and had turned to Bridges because of our history of working together, hoping we might know of a local resource that could help her.

Crisis Nursery Services LogoI spoke with Sally about our Crisis Nursery program. The Crisis Nursery is a program available to connect families with short-term childcare by a licensed provider, during a family’s crisis, at no cost to them. Sally was so relieved that there was a service for her to utilize during her crisis. I was able to place Jackie and Tim with one of our amazing Crisis Nursery providers within one hour of Sally’s call.

Several days after the placement, Sally stopped by the Bridges of Hope office, asking to speak with me. Sally reported the children had LOVED the provider and had been able to roast marshmallows during their time in her care. Sally let me know that Holly had been released from the mental health facility a few days after arriving, and that she had been diagnosed with autism. Before leaving, Sally asked if she could give me a hug because she was so grateful for all the time and effort that was put into helping her in her time of need. I was happy to oblige, and even happier that Sally had been able to care for one of her children in crisis while not having to worry over the safety or comfort of the other two.

Finding Creative Solutions to Help

At Bridges of Hope, we deal with a wide variety of situations, and we try to find not only appropriate but also creative solutions for families who sometimes are facing some unique situations.

One example of the ways we are sometimes able to be creative is Sandy’s story:

Sandy is a mother of two boys: Nathan (age 7) and Kyle (age 4).  Sandy was struggling to find productive activities and healthy outlets for the boys who both have serious mental health diagnoses. Sandy had been utilizing Respite Services once or twice a month, but she was wondering what she could do to provide an activity for the times when they were together as a family. That was when Sandy was connected with Bridges of Hope.

SandboxA staff member met with Sandy and then took the information back to the entire team. As staff pondered Sandy’s story and her concerns, slowly the idea to build a sandbox began to form. A sandbox would provide the boys an active outlet for their ADHD and other mental health issues. Bridges of Hope was able to utilize its Just For Kids fund to assist with purchasing wood, sand, and other materials needed to build the sandbox.

A few weeks later, when the Bridges staff followed up with Sandy, she reported that she had made building the sandbox into a family project, and it was already getting lots of use every day. Sandy said both boys loved the sandbox, and it was a real benefit to have something for the boys to do outside together.

Over the past ten years, we have encountered many different family situations. Some happen more commonly for families: cars break down, someone loses a job, a plan for daycare falls through, or there simply just isn’t enough money to pay all the bills. Others, like Sandy’s situation, have happened only once or twice: gophers chew through wiring, a toddler is sneaking out of the house at night, two boys need a healthy outlet for their extra energy. Whatever the situation, Bridges of Hope seeks to look at each individual family’s story as its own unique situation, and we tailor our services, suggestions and resources to best fit that family’s needs. Bridges was founded on this idea: to simply be the bridge between families and those with the resources to help families. That means the bridge might look different for different families, but that’s the whole idea: that each family is different, and a one-size-fits all solution simply doesn’t work in every case.

For Sandy, her solution was a sandbox. The next time for another family it might be help with a water bill. Or referrals to a housing program. Or help setting up Respite Services to provide a break for a parent. Each time, for each family, we work to connect families with the resources that best fit them, right in the situation they’re in, given the strengths and needs they have at the time. In that way, we are able to constantly adapt our services to best meet the needs of each person who reaches out for support. And that’s what it’s all about: helping in creative ways to build bridges.

Get Involved:

  • Learn more about Bridges of Hope’s services, or refer a family in need to us.
  • Read other stories about how we are helping families connect to resources.
  • Make a donation to support our work with a family.
  • Contact us to make sure we know about the services you provide in our community.

A Good Solution for Julie & Hanna

This year, Bridges of Hope added a new program to its continuum of services for families. Respite Services provides a regular break to parents or guardians of children with mental health or behavioral challenges. This is typically a scheduled break at the home of a respite care provider who has been selected by the parents.

But you might be thinking, wait a second–I thought Bridges of Hope already did this! It is true that we also administer Crisis Nursery Services, but there are some key differences between the two. Parents utilizing Respite have an ongoing plan to use the service–often utilizing it once a month, and/or at regular intervals throughout the year (to help provide a break for caregivers of a child with mental health or behavioral challenges). Crisis Nursery, on the other hand, is short-term childcare during an immediate family crisis situation, when there are no other safe alternatives for children.

An example of just such a Crisis Nursery situation is Kendra’s story, which you can read here.

In contrast to the more immediate nature of Crisis Nursery, Respite works this way:

11-Year Old Girl

Julie is a single mom, fairly new to the Brainerd Lakes Area. She contacted Bridges of Hope requesting assistance in establishing Respite Services for her 12-year-old daughter, Hanna. New to the area, Julie had no friends or family available to provide her–or Hanna–with a break. Julie explained that when Hanna was 2 years old, Julie became her Foster Care Provider, later adopting her when Hanna’s birth parents’ rights were terminated. Over the course of the next year, Hanna’s behavioral challenges became more pronounced, and she was eventually diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).

At Bridges of Hope, the staff was able to provide Julie with a list of Respite providers who had availability work with new families. Julie connected with one of the providers and was able to meet them in their home to make sure it was a good fit for Hanna. After working with the Bridges staff on establishing how much Respite would be appropriate to meet Hanna’s needs, Julie and the provider were able to set up a regular schedule for Respite, and Hanna is currently receiving the service one day per month. Julie reports Respite has been a good solution for both herself and for Hanna.

As a single parent myself, I know through my own experience the importance of having someone reliable to call on in times of parenting stress, and I feel so blessed to have an extensive informal support system for the times when I need a break or have a childcare emergency. The reality for many families, however, is that this informal support system does not always exist. Kendra’s and Julie’s stories are both examples of the way Bridges of Hope helps bridge the gap for those parents who may not have many (or any) healthy, supportive adults in their lives to help care for their children in times of need or stress. Crisis Nursery and Respite Services help provide this critical relief for parents who are working hard to raise their children and who need just a little additional support to be successful.

————————————————————————————-

Take Action:
>>Learn more about becoming a Foster Parent (or contact your local county
for more information).
>>Learn more about adoption in Minnesota through MN Waiting Children.
>>Learn more about the importance of healthy, early-childhood attachment.

Kendra’s Moment

Kendra was out of options. She had moved into an apartment in the Lakes Area after leaving her home community–and having to sever all her ties to friends and family–due to a domestic violence situation. She had fled shortly after learning she was pregnant with her third child and had since found a part-time job, established regular childcare, joined a parenting support group, and was on her way to mapping out a new life. But finding new friendships in a new community was happening slower than she thought it would; and now, nine months pregnant, there were times Kendra still felt very much alone in the world.

And then one day, on a Thursday afternoon, she went into labor.

Baby Boy

Image by Clare Bloomfield: http://bit.ly/clareportfolio

About a half-hour before closing time, Bridges of Hope received a phone call from Mary, a social worker at a local hospital. Mary explained that she had been called in by Kendra’s nurses, because Kendra had recently been admitted and was in active labor–but her two other children, ages 2 and 4, were there with her. Mary had learned that when the labor started, Kendra tried calling a few acquaintances from the parenting group, but no one was available, and not knowing what else she could do, Kendra brought her kids with her.

This was a perfect situation for Crisis Nursery. The Bridges of Hope staff spoke with Kendra over the phone and explained how the program works. She then began calling our trained Crisis Nursery providers and quickly located an available provider who could pick up the children from the hospital–all within twenty minutes of Mary’s phone call. The children would be cared for in Crisis Nursery for 48 hours until Kendra could leave the hospital, putting both Mary and Kendra at ease. Two days later, Kendra brought her new baby boy home to meet his older siblings.

Crisis Nursery Services Logo

Crisis Nursery Services

Crisis Nursery is a free, short-term childcare option for parents of children ages 0-12 when there are no other available childcare resources. This program is funded by a grant from the Children’s Trust Fund and is a partnership between Bridges and Crow Wing County Community Services. The Crisis Nursery has more funding available in 2011 than it did in 2010; if you or someone you know is in a childcare crisis, please call Bridges of Hope at 218.825.7682 and speak to a Family Service Worker about your situation or click here for additional details.

Rochelle’s Moment

RachealRochelle is a single mom of three boys, ages one, two and four. She called Bridges of Hope after hitting rock bottom mentally and emotionally. She had ended up at a local shelter after fleeing from years of abuse at the hands of her husband, who was in another state. Rochelle knew her decision to leave her husband was the right one, but it was still hard for her. She had been suffering from depression for years; and now, homeless and facing the daunting task of being a single parent to three children all under the age of five, she was feeling tremendously stressed and overwhelmed.

That’s when Rochelle called Bridges of Hope, explaining to the staff that she knew she needed to get her mental health under control before she could even begin to rebuild her life. Bridges of Hope was able to find a counselor who specialized in parenting and stress management as well as with survivors of domestic violence. Rochelle was set up with an immediate counseling appointment, and the Bridges staff simultaneously set up Crisis Nursery childcare for the children, so Rochelle could attend the appointment.

After her initial appointment, a Bridges staff followed up with Rochelle, who reported that the counseling appointment went really well and that she planned to continue to see the counselor. Bridges of Hope was able to set up Crisis Nursery a few more times during Rochelle’s subsequent counseling appointments; and now, a few months later, Rochelle has been able to move into her own place and has gotten a job at local retailer. She has been able to set up regular childcare and continues to move forward with her mental health.

Are you or someone you care about looking for the same kind of support that Rochelle needed? Bridges of Hope maintains a comprehensive database of our area therapists and their specialties. Click here to learn more.