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Media Release

Attention: Community/Health/Life Editors
MEDIA RELEASE    
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Provincial website helps thousands of Ontario families access vital respite services

Toronto, ON, September 3 2008 – The physical and emotional demands of providing constant care for a loved one with a disability can be overwhelming. Thousands of families struggle each day to give the best care possible, often in difficult circumstances and with little temporary relief. But help is now just a click away at an award winning website  www.respiteservices.com

Since its province-wide launch a year ago, respiteservices.com has helped thousands of people across Ontario access vital respite services. Supported by the Ministries of Finance, Community and Social Services and Children and Youth Services, and facilitated and hosted by Geneva Centre for Autism, respiteservices.com provides information and links to local respite services for people with disabilities and their families across 38 Ontario communities.

Families who previously faced a confusing maze of programs, organizations and funding options for children and adults with special needs can now easily access services and funding and recruit a respite worker from this central online resource. Meanwhile respite workers can learn about training options, register with the database and view job postings.

"Caring for young people with special needs is challenging and takes an enormous amount of time, energy and patience. This website is a great one-stop resource where families can find information on temporary relief services in their communities. Respite is an important part of helping to keep children and youth with special needs where they want to be - at home with their families."
Deb Matthews, Minister of Children and Youth Services

“Respite support services are vital for individuals with a disability and their families. Parents can enjoy a weekly evening out, knowing their son or daughter is well cared for by someone who understands his or her special needs. Just a few hours of regular support can make a huge difference for these families.”
Margaret Whelan, Executive Director, Geneva Centre for Autism

“Since my wife died five years ago I have been the major caregiver for my two sons, including my eldest, Raymond, who is 16 and has severe autism. Raymond needs supervision twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. It can be very stressful. That’s why respiteservices.com is so vital. I’m able to hire respite workers directly, knowing that they have been screened beforehand. With the help of respite workers I’ve been able to attend parent support group meetings and have been able to attend to my younger son.”
Peter Sen, parent of a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Originally established in 2000 as a central source of information for families in Toronto, respiteservices.com was extended across Ontario as part of the Ministry of Finance’s “Strengthening Our Partnerships Program”.

By centralizing information in this website respite services are now more accessible, better coordinated and more responsive to the needs of individuals and families. Agencies and organizations within the respite services network that were previously loosely connected are now working together sharing best practices, improving the quality and delivery of services and maximizing the most efficient use of resources.

Some of the ways respiteservices.com has improved services to Ontario residents and their communities:

    One respite worker, who has a disability herself, had experienced difficulty finding full time work until applying online to be a respite worker. A week after attending a training and information session and setting up her profile page online, she began working for two families. She notes with pride that she feels as if she is running her own small business.

    Many social service agencies report that one of the greatest struggles of
the families they serve is finding and retaining qualified respite workers. Many families cannot use the respite funding they receive because of the lack of trained, available workers. Respiteservices.com has helped to address this huge service gap across Ontario as the director of one agency notes:

“Respiteservices.com greatly extends the capabilities of organizations committed to enabling and empowering families. It has extended our reach geographically and in terms of sheer volume of families supported and workers connected.”

Spokespeople and case studies available on request

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