bona vista respite

NOTES — During an outing through Bona Vista’s respite services, Rhum Academy of Music instructor Sami Soutar teaches participants about different instruments they offer lessons on like the guitar and ukulele. The respite program is open by appointments, which can be made by calling 765-560-7675.

It’s back to school time! If you’re a parent who has been home with their children all summer you’re either, one, super appreciative for the time and have enjoyed every minute of it, or, two, you’ve been counting down the days of summer since the second week of break because your children expect you to be a circus clown and entertain them every minute of the day. There seem to only be two camps that stay-at-home parents find themselves.

For those who work (like myself), I have loved summer because my children are old enough to stay at home while I work, and I don’t have to worry about childcare. They stop by my work with Kokomo Frozen Custard deliveries (shout out to Mr. Hinkle), they are able to do chores during the day and on a rare occasion they even make dinner. So, listen to me parents of young children – it gets so good! Stay the course!

Now, imagine. You’re the parent of a child with special needs. In fact, you’re the parent of a child with special needs who is about to or who has already graduated, and now you don’t know what to do. This is the reality for so many parents, and I want to give you just a few ways that we want to partner with you.

First, while your student is still in high school I would strongly urge you to seek out our Pre-Employment Transition Serves (Pre-ETS) program. This program works hand-in-hand with the school to make sure your student (even starting as early as age 14) is on the right track for after graduation. Whether that student wants to attend college, find community employment or learn how to live independently, the Pre-ETS program helps students with job exploration counseling, work-based learning experiences, counseling on opportunities for postsecondary education programs, instruction in self-advocacy, and independent living.

If you reach out to your school about the Pre-ETS program for your child, and they are not currently participating, ask them why not. We would love to be in every school system in Howard and surrounding counties, and are happy to talk to anyone and everyone about the benefits and successes we have seen.

Another great resource that parents/guardians of those with special needs can take advantage of is our respite program. Our respite house opened in Kokomo in 2018 and provides relief to caregivers who are looking after a loved one who requires frequent, monitored care so they can recharge their batteries and avoid burnout and exhaustion.

Caregiver burnout is real. People don’t like to talk about it often, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of. That’s why we want to help! All you have to do is call 765-450-7675 to schedule a time you’d like to bring your loved one. If you want to go to the grocery alone, use the respite house. If you want to take a nap, use the respite house. If you want to go get lunch with a friend, use the respite house. There’s no reason too big or too small to use the respite house.

If your child has already graduated and you’re not sure what to do, we have so many day programming options for you to choose from. However, these are Medicaid Waiver-funded services. Not sure what the Medicaid Waiver is or how to get started getting on the waiver? Call Community Education Coordinator Troy Bowers at 765-457-8273 or email

Now, the day programs. If your child wants to do art during the day or learn job-readiness skills to one day gain community employment or if they just want someone (who isn’t mom and dad) to go with them to the mall or take them to bowling, we have programs that do all of those things! Our Action. Inspired. Motivated, Sky is the Limit, Opportunity Knocks!, Community Habilitation – Individual, or Participants Assistance Care programs are all available for adults with special needs who want to continue to have meaningful relationships, learn new things, and grow in their independence once high school is complete.

Why do we have so many options? Because we want to be an amazing resource for those with special needs children in this community. For more information, do not hesitate to call (765-457-8273) or email (