Jun 14, 2012 9:08 AM by Jen Hollenbach - MTN News
GREAT FALLS- Parents of special needs children have a new source for support and rest in Great Falls at the Peace Place Respite Care facility.
Paulisha Pryor is one of the people who has benefitted from the service. Her 18 month old daughter Willow suffers from a heart defect, immune deficiency, sclerosis and developmental disabilities, requiring extra attention from Paulisha to properly care for her daughter.
"Hearing the condition one week before I had Willow was overwhelming...but then you just have to go through it and be a mother and take care of your baby," Paulisha noted."It's been hard because she is disabled. And a lot of people kind of shy away from taking care of her out of fear and not knowing how to take care of her."
Now Paulisha, and other parents facing the same difficulties, have some help, thanks to the staff at Peace Place Respite Care. The facility is dedicated to giving caregivers a safe place to leave their children, with people who understand the unique challenges each child faces.
"In my daughter's first year of her life, there just wasn't anyone who could take care of her in our place. So it really... You don't forget that. You don't forget what its like to need that breathing room," Michelle Patterson, one of the co-creators of the facility, explained.
The center has been open for two months, serving children with special needs up to the age of five.
"The parents can often be a better caregiver for the time they are with their children because they've had that down time. And it helps the children. It's a good place for them to go and experience people instead of being with their same caregiver," Michelle noted.
"When she comes here she's happy...she's ok. This disability is not going to handicap her. It just makes her more special," Paulisha added.
The center is currently open from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Wednesdays and as the program becomes more established, Patterson hopes to add more days and accept a wider age group.