Raising children demands a lot of energy and endless emotional reserves; all this is magnified when it comes to raising a child with special needs. Constant worrying, lack of free time and the neglect that other siblings often suffer is only a fraction of the daily routine for parents of children with special needs. Without the proper balance, the family nucleus is certain to disintegrate. Giving parents a night off is an important tool for restoring health to these overly- stressed families. All the children become better adjusted, while parents are secure in the knowledge that their child is enjoying himself and receiving the best possible care. This reprieve enables parents to attend to the needs of the rest of the family, particularly the other children who need them.
The Respite Program operates all week long and allows every child in the Afternoon Activity Program to spend one night a week out of the house and a two-night Sabbath weekend once a month. The children and their families know well in advance which night is planned and on what day of the week. In fact, the children even know who their roommates will be and which staff member will be on hand. SHALVA's professional staff takes this opportunity to teach the children essential independence skills such as brushing teeth, getting dressed, bathing, preparing for bed, making meals etc. These skills play a key role in reducing the child's dependence on their family.
Every child is given the opportunity to sleep at SHALVA for one weekend every month. This sleepover plays a very special part in the program as the children are not divided according to their usual afternoon groups but, rather, each child is assigned a staff member who is responsible for him from the moment he enters the building until he departs. During this time, the child's family gets 56 continual hours of respite.
Weekend activities include
•Social bonding activities
•Strengthening personal independence skills
•Learning to perform important household activities
The desperately needed time off for the parents combined with the life skills children obtain at SHALVA, give the family of a child with special needs the ability to properly adhere to their own needs while not compromising on the treatment of their child with disabilities.