The Loras College Social Work Program has partnered with Respite Options of Northeast Iowa, a program that provides Northeast Iowa foster parents with some time off, to provide foster parents with an in-home certified care provider enabling them to get away for a day, weekend or vacation. The program has a new service area and is in need of more volunteers.
For Kathie Novy, a foster mom in Denver, Iowa, the program has been a great help. “We’ve used the program for a day here or there and a couple of times in an emergency,” said Novy. “It helps relieve stress and allows us to do things we could not do with the kids along.”
Loras College social work students will help to screen new applicants as part of their Social Work Practice course. “This is an amazing opportunity for our students,” said Michelle Bechen, Loras Social Work Program Director. “We are constantly looking for experiential opportunities that give our students real-world practice outside of the classroom.” The Loras Social Work Program received full academic accreditation this past June.
The Respite Options program, which started in Bremer, Butler, Franklin and Grundy counties, expanded last year into Howard, Allamakee, Winneshiek, Clayton, Chickasaw and Fayette counties. Respite Options now offers services in Delaware, Dubuque and Buchanan counties and needs more respite providers.
The program expansions — including partnerships with the social work departments at Loras College in Dubuque and Luther College in Decorah, and the original partner school, Wartburg College in Waverly — are funded through a $25,000 contract with the Iowa Department of Human Services.
“We need a wider circle of providers, and we’re hoping to attract even more college students and other interested adults,” said Nancy Magnall, resource information specialist with the Iowa Foster and Adoptive Parents Association.
Providers must be at least 20 years old, complete an application and certification process, and be able to make a one-year commitment to the program. While this is not a paid position, respite providers do receive a small stipend and help with mileage costs when they travel to do respite.
Training will be offered in Waverly, beginning in January, and in Decorah and Dubuque, beginning in February. The program has trained 46 volunteers, including college students, former foster parents and adult children of foster families.
Persons interested in becoming certified respite providers should contact Nancy Magnall at 877-467-4100, 319-352-3600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.