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No safety measures compare to proving one-on-one supervision for a child at risk for wandering, but this kind of care can be emotionally and physically draining for the primary caregiver. Caregivers can request assistance from the child's school and/or receive respite care through the county boards of developmental disabilities.

Requesting Supervision at School: Caregivers of children who are at risk for wandering can request 1:1 supervision during the school day by writing a letter that describes the child's wandering behaviors and requesting a behavior assessment. This sample (from AWAARE) is specific to autism spectrum disorders (ASD); however, with the creation of a medical diagnosis code for wandering, caregivers of children with other diagnoses now have medical support in the request process. Not all schools may grant 1:1 supervision in all cases. Caregivers who are concerned may contact the Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities for guidance and more information.

Requesting Respite Care: Respite care allows caregivers to attend to family or personal needs with the assurance that a child with special needs will receive adequate and safe care. Both Cuyahoga and Lorain Counties offer reimbursement for respite care for qualified families through their Family Resource Support Programs or Medicaid waivers (see sidebar). In both cases, families must enroll with the local county board of developmental disabilities and meet eligibility criteria. To get started, visit the county board website and contact an intake coordinator.

Families who are not eligible for respite care reimbursement through the county can still take advantage of county services by asking their caseworker for a list of approved respite care providers.

Communication is Critical

Communication between caregivers is absolutely critical to ensuring the safety of a child who is prone to wandering. Use a "Tag, you're it" system (especially during large gatherings) to ensure that the adult who is supervising the child knows he or she is responsible.

Other Respite Options

Bay Presbyterian Church offers free quarterly respite events.

Camp Cheerful offers respite weekends once a month from September through April. There is a cost associated with this program but waivers may be used to cover it.

North Olmsted Assembly of God offers quarterly free respite for special needs children and their siblings.

Medicaid and Respite

Medicaid waivers are often used to cover the costs of respite care; however, the waiting lists for these waivers are often many years long. If you have a child with a disability who may need respite care throughout his or her life, you should contact your county board of developmental disabilities as early as possible to enroll and be added to the waiting lists.

Call, text or email:

Phone: 1-440-570-5908
Español: 1-440-907-9130
Email: info@connectingforkids.org


P.O. Box 45372
Westlake, Ohio 44145

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