Finding a reliable, quality babysitter can be tough, as any parent knows. Whether it’s a one-time need or regular afterschool care, it can be a challenge to find childcare for older kids. When your child has a disability, finding flexible childcare can be even more challenging. Fortunately, Northeast Ohio has a new Hero on the scene who is ready and willing to meet the needs of parents and caretakers.
On-Demand Respite Care
“We hear families saying, ‘we need qualified help,’” shared OndeCare founder Nicole Paolozzi. “They are juggling family, care, work and everything else. Our goal is to be that source for families who need quality care.” Paolozzi’s own experience sparked the creation of an on-demand care service, or OndeCare, for those looking for help. In Paolozzi’s words, because these caregivers can often “save the day” for families in need, OndeCare refers to their network of caregivers as “Heroes.” OndeCare’s Heroes work in (or are retired from) professions such as teaching, medicine, social work, therapy, or other approved Hero profession.
Similarly, Summit DD staff members were hearing from parents of teens with developmental disabilities that they needed help. Kids of all abilities typically “age out” of traditional childcare around age 12. Parents said they were struggling to find, safe, knowledgeable and flexible care options for their pre-teens and teens.
“Our parents were telling us that they couldn’t find caregivers who had the knowledge and background to meet their older kids’ needs,” explained Summit DD Inclusion Specialist, Erin Pemberton.
“So we began looking to see what is out there and found OndeCare,” shared SSA Manager, Jennie Petrarca.
Summit DD’s dialog with OndeCare helped expand the service to Summit County. Petrarca and Pemberton worked with the Paolozzi and her partner Kim Cohen to tap into a category called “Special Needs Care.” In addition to the required background checks for OndeCare Heroes, this category also provides the expertise, training and background that families want to meet the specialized needs of their child.
Pemberton pointed out that not only does a resource like this this give parents the control and experience they desire, it also provides an opportunity for growth. “This is a great start for families to work with caregivers to begin building these [independent] skills [for their teens],” Pemberton suggested. She explained that situations like these can even go beyond a “babysitter” role and help some older children work toward independent life skills like chores.
Support for Families
OndeCare works like this: parents create an account on the OndeCare website. From there, parents specify the date(s), times and type of care needed. They can browse Heroes’ profiles, see their rates, watch videos and read reviews. Once they find the Hero that is right for their family, parents can reach out with questions, book the Hero and pay for services all directly through the OndeCare site.
Family Engagement Program Connection
Best of all, the OndeCare Special Needs Care Heroes have gone through additional chosen respite provider training with Summit DD. So not only do these caregivers have the extra training to give families peace of mind, but the OndeCare Heroes also meet the qualifications required for Summit DD’s Family Engagement Program funding. This means that some of your on-demand care may be reimbursable through this Summit DD program. (Find out more about Summit DD’s 2020 Family Engagement Program here.)
Pemberton and Petrarca added that their goal is to support families in need. “We want to help connect families to local resources,” shared Petrarca. “And we will work to find families the right care solution to meet their needs.”