Twenty-five years ago Trinity Heights Respite Care became an incorporated nonprofit ‑ the effort of a group of families to create a support network trying to create a time for each set of parents to get some time away from their children. Their children were special needs, and caring for them was a 24/7 proposition that could be very demanding.

 

What they came up with was a Parents Day Out — there would be activities and care for their children at Trinity Heights United Methodist Church so parents could go take care of other things, and themselves. The group had an eye on creating a service organization.

“They had two age groups of children,” said Connie Rickard, the current director of Trinity Heights Respite Care. “They met at the church and it was staffed by volunteers — high school and college students with health professionals. We are now all paid, part-time employees.”

The day was a good one. The church supported the effort, and a program began to grow out of the event. In 1993, the organization incorporated as a non-profit organization. They will be celebrating with a dinner, entertainment, and an auction at 6 p.m. April 6. A free will donation will be accepted. To go, RSVP by March 30 at respite-care@att.net.

“This (idea) started in August of 1990,” said Connie Rickard, the current director of Trinity Heights Respite Care. “It was a group of parents and professionals who came together to address the need. There were several families from Trinity Heights that had children.”

Trinity Heights Respite Care serves families who have children ages birth to 16 years old with special needs.

Respite care is time for parents to rest, recharge, and reconnect with friends and other family members. We provide respite care in the family home and at a monthly Parents Day Out, which offers children opportunities for socializing, is still central to the program services. Parents Day Out is held at Trinity Heights UMC, usually on the third Saturday of the month for about six hours. Children with special needs, and their siblings, are welcome to the day.

“The mission is to provide respite care to families in Harvey and Marion County who have special needs children,” Rickard said. “They have a purpose, and that has not changed. It is to provide rest, relaxation so parents have time to do the responsibilities of daily living or assist other children. We promote that parents take some time away to do something special for them.”

In-home care is scheduled on an as-needed basis.

The cost of care is subsidized. Clients pay on a sliding scale according to income.

Client fees cover about 8 to 10 percent of the total cost of care, so Resipte Care depends on grants and donations to make up the remaining operating budget.

Currently the program provides services to 40 families.

“Some of them are one or two times a year, but we are currently serving 23 families a month,” Rickard said. “We provide close to 400 hours of service per month. ... We are working to expand our knowledge of each child and how to work with a special needs child. We do not just go in and sit there and have the child do their own thing. We integrate. We play games and do things they would like that parents may not have time to do.”