Lil’ Friends: A Respite Care Solution for Families with Special Needs Kids
Oct 01, 2018 04:56PM
In Broomfield, families with children with special needs are fortunate to have local access to several unique resources and programs such as programs through our public schools, Bal Swan Children’s Center, and FRIENDS of Broomfield. But for many families, more is needed. Lil’ Friends is a new Broomfield-based state-licensed childcare facility for three- to sixteen-year-olds that aims to fill the gap by providing respite care for special needs children and families.
What is respite care? It is short-term care provided for a person in need of special support so that the person who usually cares for them can have a break. The unique new program is being launched by Shelly Cox and Ange Shores this fall in Broomfield. Lil’ Friends is dedicated to helping kids with developmental and physical disabilities by providing parents and caregivers periods of rest while children are taken care of in a safe and fun environment.
Shores is the mother of a now adult daughter with special needs that require a high level of care and support. “If Lil’ Friends would have been around when my kids were younger, I would have gotten some much needed relief. As a young family, we could not afford to pay someone to watch Brittany – if I could even have found someone to watch her, it’s extremely hard to find someone to watch our special kids – and our extended family members were becoming worn down,” she explained. “With Lil’ Friends, I would have gotten a break, whether it be spending more quality time with my other children, a movie, shopping, a doctors appointment or even a nap. I would have been a much less stressed Mom of three,” she said.
Shelly Cox described how the ideas was born: “I had the opportunity to attend a fundraiser at FRIENDS of Broomfield, which provides programs for adults with developmental disabilities. At that fundraiser, I realized that what they do for the adult population is an absolute gift to their participants and families. Their program inspired me to form a similar type of program for children.”
Lil’ Friends will provide respite care, family and community networking, and support. Children will participate in a play-based developmental model to strengthen life, motor, social, and communication skills, while being cared for in a safe and nurturing environment. To begin with, Lil’ Friends is offering limited hours throughout the week on a space available basis. Families will enter the program and then set up a schedule. A program will be set for each client from a regular weekly schedule to use based on appointments or special circumstances.
Cox explained that they are already getting great feedback from new clients, “Several families have already expressed excitement about having a date night once a month. These families especially need this much needed time.”
Lil' Friends is partnering with Holy Comforter Church and will be located in one of its facilities. "Holy Comforter is honored and excited to host the Lil' Friends program on our campus. Their much needed offering will add strength to our community; and, we look forward to welcoming all of the families," said Reverand Kim Seidman.
Lil’ Friends will provide much more than just short-term care. They are also offering therapies to really help maximize the time and experience. One-on-one and small group therapy services including occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech language pathology are planned in the near future.
“As a Pediatric Occupational Therapist for the majority of my career I have witnessed the amount of time it takes to care for a child with special needs. These parents love their kids so very much and spend an enormous amount of time caring for them, going to medical appointments, filling out paperwork, attending meetings, and making sure that their child has the best programming possible based on their needs. It is extremely time consuming and can be stressful and tiring, said Cox. “These amazing parents need a break from time to time in order to recharge and be the best parents they can be! There are situations sometimes too where a ‘regular’ babysitter does not have the training needed to care for a child with special needs. Then the entire family unit can be worn down.”
Lil’ Friends aims to provide a solution for these families.
For full details about the program, the staff, and to learn about registering, visit www.Lilfriends.org
Opening Respite Care Hours
Tuesday/Wednesday 9:00 a.m.- 1:00 p.m.
Friday 2:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
FOR ALL AGES and siblings on a
space available basis:
One Friday evening a month* from 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
One Saturday a month* from
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
*See online calendar for dates (not determined at this time)