The Need for the Gift of Time. Parents of children with special needs are often overwhelmed by the demands of constant care and badly need a break. But they cannot rely on babysitters or relatives to care for their children, due to the high level of expertise required to do so. Who can provide the rest that these families so desperately need?
Consider the ways that raising a child with disabilities impacts a family:
- Emotional Impact. Parents of children with disabilities are often stretched to the breaking point. Due to the strain of raising a child with disabilities, these families are far more likely to experience divorce. Many parents report spending more than ten hours each week just coordinating care for their child. Parents struggle to devote time to typical siblings, which often leaves siblings feeling neglected and resentful.
- Financial Impact. Families that include a child with special needs are much more likely to struggle financially, not only due to the expense of raising a child with special needs, but also because many parents are forced to select lower-paying jobs with more flexibility.
How Jill’s House Emerged to Help Families Carry the Burden. As Lon and Brenda Solomon began raising Jill (see Letter from Jill’s Mom), God opened the eyes of the McLean Bible Church community to see these needs. The church began serving children and families in numerous ways through its Access Ministry. But the Solomons and McLean Bible Church continued to see desperation in families’ eyes and prayed about how to do more to help.
Then, while leading a trip to the Holy Land, Lon Solomon toured a facility in Jerusalem named Shalva. Shalva means “peace of mind.” Shalva offers many services to children with intellectual disabilities, including overnight respite. Lon immediately recognized it as a model for meeting this crucial need for overnight respite.
Overnight respite allows parents to take time away and focus on their marriages. Overnight respite allows families to devote more time to typical siblings. Some parents use the time to study for new degrees to improve their family’s quality of life. Others use the time to get ahead on work. Some use the time to catch up with old friends. All emerge refreshed and better equipped to care for their children.