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Special Kids Special Families - Caring for Children with Disabilities

  • Synopsis: Published: 2011-09-28 - The mission of Special Kids Special Families is to promote strengthen, and support individuals with disabilities and their families. For further information pertaining to this article contact: Wendy Taormina-Weiss.

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The mission of Special Kids Special Families is to promote, strengthen, and support individuals with disabilities and their families.

The organization began with Zach's Place, a program that is a respite center in downtown Colorado Springs. Zach's Place was founded by two mothers who wanted to assist other families who are raising children with disabilities. Like many other non-profit organizations, there is a story behind the organization.

Linda Ellegard, now Executive Director of Special Kids Special Families and one of the co-founders of the organization, was a single parent of a son with special needs. Her son Joey was born with a seizure disorder and cerebral palsy. Joey loved sports, particularly football - yet he also played and coached field hockey, was a swimmer, played one-handed basketball, as well as baseball. The year 1996 found Joey passing away at the age of fifteen.

Linda Ellegard was the Director of a child placement agency at the time Joey passed away, an agency that had special needs children referred for foster care placement. During that time the idea of respite care was discussed with Linda Rivera, who cared for special needs children through the agency. Some of the children being placed into foster care had parents that were neither neglectful nor abusive. The children were loved by the families they were a part of, yet circumstances in life created situations for their parents where provision of daily care for the children was creating serious issues.

Zach's Place became a solution for parents, giving them a choice and assistance with the care of their child. Since the creation of Zach's Place, Special Kids Special Families has moved forward to create a number of programs to assist people with disabilities and families. Zach's Place; however, remains an important part of what the organization does.

Zach's Place - Where Caring Never Stops

Image of Garrett and MarshallZach's Place supports and preserves families by giving them respite time in order to renew both their relationships and their energies. It provides quality care in an environment that is nurturing in a family's own community. Zach's Place helps children to achieve their highest level of independence through provision of life skills training.

Zach's Place was established to provide families in Colorado Springs and areas in the vicinity with a place for respite care for their children who are between the ages of five and twenty-one. It was originally designed for children with developmental disabilities, although it is open to others. Zach's Place offers both free play and structured play, it teaches socialization and life skills. The program provides respite in an environment that is home-like, and has children on a daily basis after school hours and during school breaks.

The aim of Zach's Place is to provide individualized support along with highly flexible scheduling so it can serve as many families as possible. The majority of families who use the program use the services after school and on weekends. Zach's Place works on a sliding fee scale and also works to support parents with accessing community funding sources. The program seeks to serve parents and children first, desiring to do everything it can make it happen.

Trenton's Friends

Image of a Special Kids Special Families logoTrenton's Friends was named after a boy who experienced multiple disabilities. Trenton was adopted by a highly loving and wonderful family who cared for him in a very caring and tender way. Trenton outlived his life expectancy of three years to be the age of thirteen. He was a blessing to everyone who knew him and a treasure to his family. Special Kids Special Families wants to provide exemplary care, as Trenton's family was know to give to him.

The Trenton's Friends program, through Special Kids Special Families, expands opportunities to families in El Paso County as a whole through provision of specialized, low-cost, in-home, and community-based child and respite care for children with disabilities who are between the ages of five and twenty-one as well as their siblings. The aim of Treton's Friends is to provide individualized support and flexibility in scheduling with the goal of serving as many families as they can outside of the Colorado Springs city limits, yet within El Paso County.

Family members who care for children with disabilities have an incredibly important job. Many times there are challenges related to finding caregiver resources that are adequate as well as ones that are designed to address the unique needs each family has. Special Kids Special Families has been helping families by providing respite care for the past decade through Zach's Place and they want you to know the same respite care is also available in El Paso County through Trenton's Friends.

Joey's Place

Image of an adult with disabilitiesThe Joey's Place program at Special Kids Special Families is new and is a Non-Integrated Day Program. The program gives adults with disabilities the opportunity to learn life skills while increasing their personal independence. Through Joey's Place adults with disabilities have the opportunity to learn the following:

Independent Living Skills: Time management, money management, information seeking, clothing care, personal health care and more.

Interpersonal Skills: Interpersonal communication, self-advocacy, conflict resolution, anger management, self-confidence building, self-esteem building and more.

Basic Workplace Literacy: Math, reading, and additional skills development.

Pre-Employment Skills: Vocational exploration, basic work behaviors, habits, attitudes, etc.

Leisure Skills: Pottery, wood-working, horticulture, music etc.

Health and Wellness: Adults with disabilities have the opportunity to learn physical fitness activities such as basketball, dancing and more.

Special Kids Special Families Child Placement

Special Kids Special Families is recruiting therapeutic foster families who are interested in making a real difference in the life of a teenager. Some of the teens involved have been awaiting a family to go to so they may leave a residential facility. Other teens have a form of developmental disability - for these teenagers Special Kids Special Families is looking for parents who desire to have a teen to live with them into adulthood, becoming their foster parent or host home parent. The organization has a certification process involving training, background checks, as well as home study.

The process to start is simple and allows all administrative paperwork and background checks to be completed in a small amount of time. Becoming a family that takes a special needs child into your home is the most rewarding thing a person will ever do in life. Special Kids Special Families is not an agency looking for foster parents - it is an organization seeking families that will allow a special needs child into their home as well as their heart. The organization provides constant support and training; you could be a parent to a special needs child. For more information, please call Linda Ellegard at 719-447-8983 ext 19.

Special Kids, Special Families - www.sksfcolorado.org



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