FEATURE — In 1988, a family traveling Interstate 15 through Utah were involved in a car accident. The parents were hospitalized, and the children were housed with local families until their parents were released. This incident became a catalyst for community members to band together to find a way to safely shelter children during crisis situations. Thus the Family Support Center of Southwestern Utah was formed.
The mission of the Family Support Center is to strengthen families, protect children and promote healthy relationships through emotional support, respite care, home visitation services, crisis intervention and community collaboration. With three locations in Southern Utah, including Cedar City, St George and the recently opened Richfield location, the centers are a wonderful resource for local families in Iron, Beaver, Kane, Garfield, Sevier and Washington counties.
Services offered by the centers vary by location but may include crisis care, respite care, crisis intervention and home visitation services, as well as provide a safe, controlled environment in which visitation exchanges can be held at no cost.
In times of crisis
Crisis care is available seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Parents can have their children signed in for crisis care for up to 72 consecutive hours. Some of the reasons parents may consider leaving their children at one of the Family Support Centers for crisis care include the following:
- Emergency medical situations.
- Birth of a sibling.
- Serving jail time.
- Family emergencies.
- Overwhelming grief or mental distress.
In need of a little break
Parents are often in need of a little time off from their round-the-clock caregiving especially when attending school or working full-time. That’s where respite care comes in. Respite care is simply relief from caregiving duties for parents looking after a child who requires frequent, monitored care.
Respite care helps ward off the burnout that can leave caregivers depressed, stressed out and exhausted.
Respite care is designated for children from infant through 11 years old. This service is available Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Some of the reasons parents may consider leaving their children for respite care include the following:
- Addiction recovery meetings.
- Job searching or job training.
- Physical and mental health appointments.
“I love that this is a free service to the community,” said RoseMarie Terry-Greco, Assistant Nursery Coordinator at the Family Support Center of Washington County. “No matter who you are and where you’re from anyone can use it, even for just a simple break away from the kiddos.”
Lots of time and care
In 2016-17, the Iron County location provided crisis and respite care to 519 children. Staff from the Family Support Center also spent 451 hours working one-on-one with families providing parent education, support and respite care visits. This much needed assistance helps families in the community to feel supported.
In addition to the many services the Family Support Center offers, they also seek to support families by providing resources, from tangible things like school supplies, shoes, coats and clothing to building skills through through regular parenting classes and support to families who have adopted from foster care.
For more information on the Family Support Centers in our area, contact one of the locations listed below. Services offered and hours available may vary by location.
310 W. 200 North
St. George, Utah
102 N. 200 East
Cedar City, Utah
58 E. 300 North