Building Philanthropy for a Better Florida

JAFCO Resumes Respite Services

June 07, 2020

Jewish Adoption and Family Care Options in Sunrise reopened its center for children with special needs immediately following the tragic death of Alejandro Ripley, a 9-year-old autistic boy from Miami.

JAFCO, an organization that provides services to abused and neglected children as well as those with developmental disabilities in South Florida, has resumed offering respite services to parents of the organization’s Children’s Ability Center, which was closed due to the coronavirus, who are in crisis. After school activities, weekend activities, overnight ability and other in-person resources are also back at the center. The organization is also opening its summer camp on June 15 at half capacity and will follow safety guidelines.

Sarah Franco, JAFCO's executive director, explained why she feels these programs are important for parents with special needs children, even during the pandemic.

“If we weigh the risks of the pandemic and add all the safety precautions that are needed, and then weigh the risk of losing another child, the answer to me is very clear, because I feel like we can mitigate the risks of COVID with really good cleaning, sanitizing, hygiene, distancing, mask wearing and temperature checking. That’s been proven to help.”

Franco continued, “To really honor Alejandro’s life and to ensure that his death can’t be in vain, we have to at least use this incident to try to do everything we can to prevent another tragedy.”

The organization has received support from the Jewish Federation of Broward County and the Children’s Services Council of Broward County. It has also partnered with the Friendship Circle chapters of Miami and North Broward and South Palm Beach, who are taking calls from parents of special needs children and offering them support.

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