The first phase: respite and short-term therapeutic crisis placement
Sustainable family-focused stabilization system – the home(s) will be built specifically to account for the unique safety and sensory challenges experienced by children with severe developmental disabilities. Specifically children/adolescents who demonstrate extreme behavioral challenges, and those who demonstrate behaviors severe enough to result in a crisis state and request for out-of-home placement. This model will be designed to help families stabilize their crisis state – the first building will eventually be replicated as the need increases – the long term goal is to have the child return home with a solid plan in place and support to follow, rather than out-of-home placement – this will involve collaboration and engagement with families, service coordinators/case managers, and specialists involved with families. The focus of this system is to create a space in which the child can access, sensory, communication, a whole foods diet, change in medications (supervised by medical professions), family training, and social skills development. Each staff member will be highly trained with required continuing education/training throughout employment – our agency will be at the front end of data driven intervention implementation – we will also hold several case studies to track and show our success as well as areas we need to grow further or change elements of our service delivery. A unique element to this program is the expectation of Sunbreak Society, that after the families initial “break” and rest from caregiving demands, families will be fully expected to actively and intensively participate in their child’s programming. They will also be expected to receive the offered training, counseling, and care, to ensure the optimal success for the child and prevention of re-entering crisis. Sunbreak society seeks to serve the whole family system in a sustainable way, regardless of placement “status”.
The second phase: Community constellations.
Constellations – This would involve retired social workers, teachers, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, as well as other individuals interested in becoming certified foster parents to work in collaboration with Sunbreak Society to achieve our mission in creating a high quality and sustainable program that grows into the community. These individuals would meet with the Sunbreak team to discuss when they are available to provide respite as well as support the community in which they live. Each neighborhood/region will eventually have respite resources via a “constellation” where children who need respite care can then be served by 1-2 local community members who have been specially trained to offer respite in their own homes. This can and will slowly spread throughout the state – carefully monitored by Sunbreak throughout, and will result in clusters of local providers available to offer families relief in highly specialized ways. The individuals providing care will be required to engage in ongoing training and followed monthly.
Both of these models are serving a very specific population of severely impacted youth who experience developmental disabilities and extreme behavioral challenges. Few agencies exist that have the ability to serve this population at this time. Families are forced to “stick it out”, call the police or emergency room when a child becomes unmanageable, or request out of home placement entirely after a prolonged crisis within the home (sometimes 2 or 3 years). No model exists that engages the family in actively meeting the needs of these severely behaviorally challenged youth while simultaneously offering families a safe place to bring their child when they DO need a break from caregiving. Traditional respite services fall far short for this population. So much so that none currently exist that are able to safely and effectively serve this population.
Our goal will always be to return the child back to the home whenever possible, with a behavior plan, ongoing layered supports, and a plan to return the child to the home safely. In the event that a child is unable to return home, our goal is to ensure that the child enters placement with a solid care plan and the supports they need to maximize their success.