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BOWLING GREEN - Bonnie Hanline called it the answer to her prayers.
The mother of an 11-year-old diagnosed with a variety of neurological problems, she recently learned the Wood County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities had opened a home where youth and adults can stay for a day or a week to give their caregivers a break.
"I cannot tell you the last time I went grocery shopping or out to run errands without someone with me," Mrs. Hanline said. "My husband and I haven't been out to dinner in three years."
Mrs. Hanline home-schools her son and her husband is a truck driver who's often away from home. Because her son requires "a lot of patience and constant redirection," she said it's difficult for her to find anyone she trusts to stay with him.
It's a common problem for parents and others who care for special-needs children and adults.
"When we've done surveys over the last few years, families have indicated it was a needed service," said William Clifford, superintendent of Wood Lane School.
In addition to the respite home, which will serve adult clients and children as young as 3, Wood Lane starts a before- and after-school care service next month for students at Wood Lane School, including those who attend autism classes at the school on East Gypsy Lane Road.
The service will be available from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. It also will be available from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on days when school is canceled due to the weather.
Mr. Clifford said the service should ease child-care concerns for working and overworked parents.
"The key is we want to make sure families take advantage of these ser
vices. They need a break," he said. "I believe respite care may avert an emergency because families are getting the needed reprieve from caring for their children which at times can be pretty grueling, and the child may appreciate it as well."
Helen Riley, respite care coordinator for Wood Lane Residential Services, has taken calls from caregivers and made reservations for their sons or daughters to stay at the respite home, a bright, three-bedroom ranch in Bowling Green. The house had been home to four mentally retarded men, but they recently moved to a larger home.
"I want the home to be like a vacation home. I want them to have fun too," Ms. Riley said.
Full-time staff will plan activities and outings for the guests in addition to helping them with basic needs.
Greg Bair, chief executive officer of Wood Lane Residential Services, said the respite home should be a welcome alternative for aging parents whose adult children live with them full-time.
"There's a belief that having respite service available really deters having people make decisions they're not prepared to make," he said. "I'm hopeful it's received well and does well."
Mr. Clifford said the MRDD board has budgeted about $120,000 a year to operate the respite home and about $70,000 for the before- and after-school care program. The money will come from its general operating funds, although those who use the services will be charged a fee based on a sliding scale.
"In this day and age, to expand services is pretty remarkable," he said. "This is something families have been asking for for a while so we need to be patient and see how families respond to these services. We want these services to be full. We want to maximize them."
Contact Jennifer Feehan at:
or at 419-353-5972.