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By ALANA MITCHELSON

A Victorian-first foster care-like system for children with disabilities has alleviated strain on Geelong families.
Private Respite Services (PRS) is approaching its first anniversary of providing individualised, one-on-one service to care for disabled children within their family homes for a day, overnight or weekends.
Dianne Welding established the service after noticing “a gap in the system from a carer’s perspective”.
“Often the reason children are in care is due to a burn-out on the parents’ or the carer’s part. Our system keeps kids at home rather than being sent off for long-term care,” Ms Welding said.
“It was two years in the making but we are NDIS and DHS-registered and we’ve now helped 32 kids in the past year.“
Lara mother of five Kylie Whitfield said she had noticed behavioural improvements in her autistic 12-year-old son, Noah Hunter, since he began using PRS six months ago.
“He can be very violent and it can be very demanding but he counts the days until he stays over at his carer Jesse’s house,” she said.
“Jesse also helps him get ready for school each day and does outdoor exercise activities in the afternoon to wear his energy levels out so he calms down after school before coming home.
“It gives me time to cook dinner and help my teenage children with their homework. And once a fortnight I’m able to catch up on sleep and get some washing done.”
Respite worker, Jesse Hill, said the one-on-one care had been crucial to Noah’s progress.
“He’s picking up so many skills like making his bed in the mornings, getting dressed by himself and preparing his clothes before taking a shower.
“He’s really opened up with my partner and my best friend who live with me as well – it’s like he becomes part of the family.”

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