Families Helping Families: The Village Responds

Jul 14, 2011

– Todd family needed help; Dixon family wanted to help
– “Shared care” gives families a break from the sometimes overwhelming demands of caring for a child with special needs and avoids institutionalization

Last summer, Insights featured a story about the Todd family, who was seeking a shared foster care arrangement for Katelyn Todd.

Katelyn is an adventurous, excitable, and sometimes moody pre-teen who experiences a rare chromosomal disorder called Deletion 10q. This disorder affects Katelyn’s rate of growth. At the age of 12, she is 3’7” and weighs 48 pounds. She receives nutrition from a g-tube, cannot speak, walks very little, and requires constant supervision.

Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and finally something happened . . .
John and Joyce Dixon value service to others, love children, and respect people of all abilities. Helping children who experience disabilities is a perfect fit for this family. In 2010, they began the process of becoming licensed foster parents, attended trainings, and waited patiently for the opportunity to help.

The Dixon family was a licensed foster family in November 2010. Emily Cadle, The Arc’s Licensing and Compliance Specialist, contacted them and described the needs of the Todd family. The two families met for several weeks and decided it was a good fit for everyone. The Dixon family got specialized training so they could meet Katelyn’s medical needs.

Emily Cadle says, “The Dixons have gone above and beyond, making themselves available to meet on weekends and attend meetings at her school, so that Katelyn has the best support possible.”

Katelyn began living with the Dixon family in April. Joyce says, “Katelyn is so very sweet, she fits in well with our family.” Katelyn spends three days each week with the Dixon family and 4 days with her family. A shared foster parent plan helps the biological family by providing a break from the sometimes overwhelming demands of caring for a child with special needs. When shared care is not available, parents are sometimes forced to institutionalize their child.

Sometimes it really does take a village to raise a child . . . The Arc of Anchorage needs more people like the Dixons.

If you are interested in more information about foster care for children who experience disabilities, please contact Emily Cadle at 277-6677.