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Isaiah was born with a rare microdeletion syndrome where three chromosomes are missing. This caused Isaiah to experience a cleft lip and palate, heart defects and feeding issues. He was hospitalized for nearly three months after he was born and underwent multiple surgeries to repair his lip and heart. While he still experiences developmental delays, he is now a vibrant seven year-old who is blooming thanks to the support of United Way and Respite Care.
“He has been amazing; he has grown; he has thrived; he has done things that people told me he wouldn’t do,” said Jessica, Isaiah’s mom. “Seven years later, he has a great relationship with his brother, Josiah; he is running; he has his own personality; he knows what he wants, and he will tell you what he wants. He doesn’t talk, but he can sign and do gestures. I completely understand what he is telling me, which is pretty incredible.”
Last school year, United Way of Larimer County provided funding to local agency Respite Care to support childcare scholarships for all children – including Isaiah – participating in their Early Childhood Program. With this funding, families paid, on average, $5.62 per hour rather than the actual cost of $21 per hour for specialized care and learning programs for their young children.
Isaiah is now in first grade and is learning more than ever.
“He’s come so far, and I’m so impressed,” said Jessica.
Isaiah started receiving services from Respite Care when he was two. He entered the Early Childhood Program – called “Pebbles” – that is supported by United Way of Larimer County. This program is part of Be Ready, and includes focus areas that increase school readiness and help children reach their full potential.
“We absolutely love it,” said Jessica. “I wouldn’t send him anywhere else because he has a feeding tube and he’s delayed. There aren’t a lot of places you can trust to care for your special needs child. The Respite Care staff is trained, and they know how to take care of him. I trust them with him every single day.”
Isaiah recently completed the Early Childhood Program and has moved up to “Rocks” – Respite Care’s program for school-age children.
“When he started with rocks, it was bittersweet,” said Jessica. “My baby is growing up. He’s becoming this knowledgeable little boy and has learned how to flourish. He has learned to communicate better; he’s learned how to be involved in different groups with other people and peers.”
“I believe Respite Care has had a huge impact on how Isaiah is growing and how he will be in the future,” said Jessica. “They offer a lot for him – compassion and love – and that is a big, important thing in a developmentally delayed child's life.”
Isaiah attends Respite Care four days a week, which also allows Jessica, a single mom, to work full time.
“He starts his morning off with a little bit of breakfast and then his bus picks him up at Respite Care, and he goes to school for the day. School gets out about 3:10, and he goes back to Respite Care where he sometimes gets to go on field trips or play outside. He loves playing outside. He loves the swings, and they also do his feeding there, so while I’m at work I know he’s safe and happy.”
“Making this care affordable and accessible enables families to work toward or maintain self-sufficiency and continue raising their children with developmental disabilities at home,” said LeAnn Massey, Executive Director of Respite Care.”
When Jessica and her husband separated, she went back to school to study medical assisting so that she could re-enter the workforce quickly.
“There are a lot of financial components in the whole process of having a developmentally delayed child, said Jessica. “I wasn't getting any help from my now ex-husband, so my family was relying on me. The support I’ve been given is such a blessing, a burden was lifted off me.
With affordable and reliable care for Isaiah, Jessica has continued to pursue. In addition to receiving her medical assisting degree, she is a Certified Nursing Assistant and is working toward a nursing degree.
“Isaiah has pushed me further to pursue future goals for myself,” said Jessica. My ultimate goal is to be a nurse, and he's pushed me to do that.”
With funding from United Way, Respite Care’s Pebble program serves more than 30 children with special needs per year. Although many of the kids at Respite Care accomplish tasks within a slower time frame than most nondisabled children, many of them have learned and are continuing to learn essential basic skills that are preparing them to enter school ready to acclimate to the classroom environment.
Through specialized care, kids are gaining social-emotional competence and an increased ability to form attachments with teachers and peers.
“We know from research that young children’s social and emotional competence is the greatest predictor of their success in school,” said Massey. “This is why at Respite Care we strive to create an interactive, stimulating and safe environment that addresses all the needs of the children we serve.”
“United Way and Respite Care have changed my family's life in a very personal way,” said Jessica. “The community has come together to help families – especially my family – thrive and gain financial stability.”
United Way of Larimer County tackles issues that matter most to our community and uses a collaborative approach to accomplish more together. Our focus on Youth & Education creates access to quality early childcare so that kids can experience success in school, work and life. When you support United Way, you help real families, like the Olivers, build a bright future.
United, we strengthen our community.
Copyright 2015 United Way of Larimer County