March 20, 2018
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Certified respite providers can help Maine families

By Jenna Mehnert, MSW

Being a parent is hard work — and being a parent of a child with disabilities can be overwhelming.

Recognizing the need to help families raising children with conditions like ADHD, depression, or autism, Maine has funded the Family Respite Program. Focused on support, education, and advocacy, NAMI Maine provides many services to support families from local support groups to educational course and a hotline for information on mental illness.

To help families to meet the needs of their children, NAMI operates the Family Respite program.

This program provides parents and caregivers with a brief, planned break from the constant focus required to care for a child with special needs:

• Need an hour to pay bills without distraction? Respite can help.

• Want to go out to dinner with just your spouse in tow? Respite is perfect for that.

There are many ways that respite can be used for families with children under age 18 who qualify. Families receive 16 hours per month of respite services, and any hours not used roll over to the next month until the end of the fiscal year.

Parents can experience difficulty in finding someone they trust to watch their children. That is why NAMI Maine employs per-diem employees as certified respite providers. There is no cost to become a provider, although individuals must be current in first aid, CPR and blood-borne pathogens. NAMI Maine can help employees earn these certifications.

NAMI Maine conducts background checks on each applicant. Once hired, providers are under no obligation to work with anyone other than families they choose. Families and providers determine if they want to work together.

Providers become per-diem employees of NAMI Maine, but work for whom they want and when they want, up to 30 hours a week. Providers set their own schedules with the families they work with and earn up to $12.50 an hour.

For more information about how to apply for respite service or how to become a respite provider, contact Karen Harrington at or at 622-5767 or go to

Jenna Mehnert, MSW, is the executive director of NAMI Maine.

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