COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — FOX21 and the Colorado Springs Independent are teaming up once again for this year’s Give! campaign.
We are highlighting local organizations that need your help.
Tonight, we’re featuring Zach’s Place, a daycare center right here in Colorado Springs.
It’s an organization dedicated to helping kids with special needs learn and grow in a safe, accepting environment.
Zach’s Place has been serving kids and families with special needs in our community for 16 years.
It’s a certain type of care that’s hard to come by.
“[Parents are] surprised somebody exists like us that does what we do for their kids,” Program Director Renae Isakson said. “A lot of the time, they’ve gotten rejected in the past, maybe from a daycare center, maybe from another respite care provider because their child seemed too hard to handle.”
Just this year, Zach’s Place has served 75 families, and they’re adding more every week.
But many of the kids have bounced between caretakers, like Braxton Byers, who has severe autism.
“We moved here because my son was not doing well where we were,” his mom, Shayla, said. “He was getting kicked out of every place he was supposed to be in. At school, he was being sent home at least two or three times a week. So it was either fight everybody or go somewhere else and hope for something better.”
And they did find something better, in the staff at Zach’s Place.
“The things [the other caretakers] were sending him home for are not stuff that people who are trained to deal with children with autism would even blink at,” Shayla said. “Like when Braxton is banging on the walls, he’s not trying to damage the walls. He’s doing it because he likes the way it feels on his hands. There are a lot of sensory things that go along with autism, and I don’t have to explain that to the people here.”
But finding care like this can be expensive, especially for families struggling to keep a job.
“For us it’s a matter of survival,” Shayla said. “I’m a single mom and you can have the most understanding employer in the world and still they will get tired of you calling in constantly or having to leave.”
That’s why Zach’s Place set up sliding scale fees, and they rely on donations and grants to continue the care.
“It’s helping the families, but helping the children grow in their abilities and giving the family a chance to breathe and seeing their child for the potential they can have,” Isakson said.
“Zach’s Place does such a great service for people in my position and my son’s position, other families like us, and allows us to have these breaks. Or in my case allow me to go to school and get a better job so I can support my son,” Shayla said. “And they do it entirely by donations and grants so it’s really, really important to this place, to all of us who need it.”
Zach’s Place was started by two moms after their sons with special needs passed away.
They serve kids ages 2 1/2 to 21, seven days a week.Learn more and Give! at indygive.com .