South Florida Hospital News
Wednesday April 1, 2020
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July 2009 - Volume 6 - Issue 1

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Economy Straining Families with Special Needs

A Broward County nonprofit has warned that difficult economic times are creating a perfect storm of pressure on families whose children have disabilities that could lead to potentially explosive domestic situations.

Broward Children’s Center Respite Director, Linda Sachs has warned the combination of increasing financial hardships and the everyday pressures of caring for a child with special needs is pushing many South Florida families to the breaking point.

Sachs directs a nonprofit program that provides families with a break from the stresses of caring for a child with special needs by placing professional caregivers in family homes or bringing children to the Center’s care facility.

"We’re seeing more and more families pushed to their limits as one or both parents are laid off and the social services available to them are curtailed," Sachs said. "This is of real concern to those of us serving this population, which already has much higher medical and day to day expenses as well as significantly elevated divorce and domestic violence rates."

Current research suggests that divorce rates in those with autistic children are more than 80%. This trend is a growing one among children with physical disabilities as improved acute pediatric care results in more and more medically fragile infants coming home to families ill-equipped to deal with their intensive medical needs and profound disabilities.

"Caring for a child with special needs can result in hardships and isolation for caregivers, many of whom often have few options for childcare when in need of counseling or the simple chance to get outside the house and attend to their own needs," said Sachs. "We know that the counseling services and support group we provide are just as critical to sustaining families as the childcare and nursing we provide."

Respite and counseling services are critical to ensuring parents get a much needed break for parents to refuel themselves so that they have the emotional resources to cope with the challenges of caring for a child with disabilities, said Sachs. "The best way I can summarize this support to say that is helps families go from surviving to thriving."

For more information about respite services contact Broward 211 or Broward Children’s Center, Director, Linda Sachs at lindas@bcckids.org.
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