One of the ways Bridges of Hope aims to support families and keep children safe in Crow Wing County is through Respite Services. This program provides no-cost, regularly scheduled childcare for families with mental health or behavioral challenges. Respite (usually 24 hours, once a month) allows both parents and children to experience a break from each other. As a result, parents have time to focus on self-care and to address their personal needs, and the break serves to alleviate stress for both children and parents, so that the family can reunite refreshed and better able to work together. In 2018, this much needed service arranged 197 placements for almost 40 households. Recently, a family that has been utilizing this program for about two years has decided to “graduate” out.
Marcy and Ken had recently been awarded custody of their six-year-old granddaughter, Ava. In her short six years with her mother, Ava’s life had been full of turbulence and danger, which meant that parenting Ava was a challenge, even though she was now safe. Marcy was also already the caregiver to Ken’s disabled mother, and the stress of newly formed family was quickly becoming too much. That’s when she was referred to Bridges of Hope for Respite Services.
While working with Bridges of Hope staff member Janelle, Marcy and Ken set several goals for their family. Ava needed more interaction with kids her own age, a regular chance to exercise, and practice becoming comfortable in a healthy environment. Marcy needed a break so she could rest, take care of herself, spend time with her husband, and be able to leave the house without fear of stressors. After securing a provider that was a good fit for Ava, Respite quickly became something the whole family looked forward to each month. Besides the monthly Respite placement, Janelle was also able to connect Ava to counseling, positive activities such as summer camps, and the Kinship Partners program.
Two years later, Marcy met with Janelle for one of their regularly scheduled check-ins, where Marcy revealed they would no longer be needing Respite. Now at eight years of age, Ava proudly reported that she had been connected with a great mentor through Kinship Partners and had “outgrown” the need for Respite. Janelle reviewed the family’s goals and successes with them and recognized the many positive supports and great tools