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New program aims to provide much-needed reprieve for caregivers of Dallas kids with disabilities

This accessible swing is designed to support children with physical disabilities.
John W. Poole
There are 46,000 special education students in the Dallas Independent School District, according to the nonprofit Ability Connection.

Dallas-based nonprofit Ability Connection is launching Camp Connections Respite. The program will be available for caregivers of 10- to 17-year-olds with developmental disabilities.

The respite care program, in partnership with local businesses, will provide families with gift cards and a list of pre-planned activities they can enjoy.

The initiative will be held every first and third Friday night from 6 to10 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. at Cochran Chapel United Methodist Church.

“For those folks that are not receiving other services, the most commonly requested support services are respite services for families,” Ability Connection President and CEO Jim Hanophy said. “Just to have an opportunity to get a break and recharge and take care of other things while their family member is somewhere safe.”

Hanophy said staff are trained to provide adequate care while the primary caregivers are participating in the program.

The nonprofit has also launched a school holiday program to provide respite care during Thanksgiving, Christmas, spring break and over the summer. Oftentimes, parents have to choose between going to work or staying at home to take care of their children during the holiday seasons is also an extended respite, Hanophy said.

Hanophy said these new programs highlight the Ability Connect’s goal of not taking a “one size fits all approach.”

“The one-person focus is on finding out what the individual needs,” Hanophy said. “What kind of support they need …and also what the family wants, and meeting that families’ expectations the best we can.

There are 46,000 special education students in the Dallas Independent School District, according to the nonprofit.

Register for the program or find more about any of the organization’s initiatives on their website.

Got a tip? Ana Perez at You can follow Ana on Twitter @anabpez9.

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Ana Perez is a KERA News producer and the intern coordinator for the station.