FORT RILEY, Kan. - The Exceptional Family Member Program's respite care gives Families of individuals with special needs an opportunity to rest.

The program provides care for special needs individuals so the primary caregivers can have some time off.

"It helps them to be able to take a deep breath, be able to refocus and be able to find different resources that work for them," said Laurie McCauley, EFMP manager.

Respite care is based on enrollment in EFMP and the severity of the condition of the special needs individual. In order to receive respite care, the individual's condition must be moderate to severe.

Families can get up to 40 hours per month of respite care, though the condition has to be "pretty significant" to receive that many hours, McCauley said.

To determine the respite care hours Families are eligible for, they complete a Family Services Needs Matrix. This helps EFMP staff gauge what is going on with the Family and what kinds of services they require.

Families can receive respite care in two ways. They can use in-home care with a provider they interview and select, or they can do it through Child, Youth and School Services.

If the Family chooses in-home care they can pick the provider. Their provider can be a Family member or friend, but the individual needs to go to through paperwork with EFMP staff. The care providers also have to go through background checks.

Payment for the care providers comes from the Department of the Army budget. After Families complete the paperwork with EFMP, they can keep track of the hours their care provider works. Then the payment invoices go through McCauley and she processes the payment for the care providers.

In order to receive respite care, Families need to have a copy of their EFMP enrollment form.

There are two versions of this enrollment form, one for educational services and one for medical enrollment. The educational form is for individuals who receive special educational services. This has to be signed by the school. Medical enrollment forms need to be completed by a doctor who identifies the severity level, what specialists are needed, etc. Both of these forms are processed through EFMP's regional office before individuals are enrolled in EFMP.

Enrollment in EFMP is done at the EFMP office at Irwin Army Community Hospital. That is where Soldiers and Families begin the paperwork and talk about enrollment procedures.

The hours of the EFMP office at the hospital are Monday through Friday 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. The staff at the hospital's EFMP office communicate with DA when a Soldier has possible orders to come to Fort Riley. They do this to check what services are available for the Family.

"If we can continue to have the Soldier be a Soldier and we get the resources available and make the Family strong and stabilized here, then the Soldier can continue," McCauley said.

The staff at the EFMP office tries to communicate with Soldiers prior to their assignment so they can get Families connected to the resources they need. They work with the educational systems, community resources, medical services and support groups.

They communicate these resources to Soldiers and Families during in-processing so they can help them get settled. They also help Families in out-processing so they can get connected to resources at their next installation.

"We do an overall coordination of resources for them," McCauley said.

The August enrollment in EFMP was 2,900 and McCauley said she doesn't see each and every Family member.

"If the Families are established with their doctors or educational services, they don't necessary come see us," she said.

In addition to their respite care program, EFMP has a support group that meets every fourth Tuesday of the month. This group usually meets at Army Community Service, and they are trying to bring in speakers for the meetings.

EFMP also has social and Family outings. They had a summer camp and special needs rodeo this summer. They have a holiday celebration in December, and they have an event coming up in October.

EFMP and the New Parent Support Program will be hosting a trip to the pumpkin patch from 10 a.m. to noon Oct. 17. They will meet at ACS, where they will ride to the pumpkin patch in a wagon. They also will decorate pumpkins. Interested individuals are encouraged to RSVP by Oct. 8 by calling (785) 239-9435.

For more information on EFMP events or services, including respite care, call McCauley at (785) 239-9435. For enrollment information call the EFMP office at the hospital at (785) 239-7198.

Page last updated Thu September 10th, 2009 at 09:49