Family Support Services
Family Support Services Coordinators are available at each of OPWDD's Developmental Disabilities Regional Offices (DDROs) to help families access Family Support Services. Each DDRO also has a Family Support Services Advisory Council to represent the interests of family members and people with developmental disabilities. The councils work in partnership with the DDROs to make decisions supporting families and loved ones.
Family Support Services can help in times of crisis when a family member or loved one becomes ill, or when things get difficult at home for other reasons. With assistance and support, families can often work these situations out and stay together. Find out more information about these services and supports by calling the Family Support Services Coordinator at the DDRO representing the county in which the individual/family lives.
DDROs continually work with local community agencies to ensure that other family support services for people with developmental disabilities and their loved ones are available when and where they are needed. These family support services may include:
- information and referral
- family and individual counseling
- family-member training
- camps (Adult Overnight Summer Camp Information )
- after-school programs
- sibling services
- support groups
- service coordination
DDROs can also arrange for specialized equipment and home modifications. For information about these types of FSS supports and services, please contact the Family Support Services Coordinators Listing of the Developmental Disabilities Regional Office (DDRO) representing the county in which the individual/family lives.
Wishing YOU a Happy and Healthy Holiday!
Vickie Rubin, M.S. Ed. Phone - 716-880-3880
Early Childhood Direction Center
3131 SHERIDAN DRIVE, People Inc Building
AMHERST, NEW YORK 14226
(PEOPLE INC. BUILDING)
The only acceptable R-word is “respect”.
on October 29, 2014 - 7:15 PM
Tim Carter of Cheektowaga is looking for a job. He says he is a hard worker, a fast learner and good with customers.
He also has an attention deficit disorder and mild Tourette’s syndrome, and, like many people with disabilities, he does not want that to be a barrier to being employed.
“I’d like to find something that feels like it could turn into a career,” Carter said Wednesday during a job fair at the Central Library in downtown Buffalo. “I could start at entry level, but in other jobs you get the feeling that you will never go anywhere – there’s no future – and it hurts.”
Carter has had temporary jobs – he worked for the U.S. Census Bureau – and has done kitchen work. But now, at age 24, he wants something more permanent.
“I’m wanting to try my hand at customer service. It seems like something I could get into. I have no trouble talking to people, talking to strangers, when you know what they want, what to ask and how to help,” he said.
He also knows that finding a career-track job won’t be easy. The employment numbers for adults with disabilities can be discouraging: In New York State, according to the Governor’s Office, the employment rate for people ages 18 to 64 with a disability is about 31 percent, compared with 72 percent employment for all other adults.
And those who are not working pay the price. The state poverty rate for unemployed disabled adults is more than 28 percent, compared with 12.3 percent for people without disabilities.
Wednesday’s Autumn Diversity Career Fair was part of a continuing effort to change those numbers.
“The gap between people with disabilities who are employed and those who could be employed has been too wide for years,” said Dennis Martinez, an employment specialist with the state’s ACCES-VR training and placement program. “People with disabilities can do almost any job. There is no job that is completely unattainable.”
His optimism was embodied by some of the employed workers who shared their stories with the job-seekers Wednesday.
Abu Musa spoke passionately about the challenges he faced when he arrived here from Liberia in 2001, widowed with three children and no idea what to do next. He kept his empty right jacket sleeve tucked into his coat pocket while talking about his journey, which led him to a 10-year career at Wegmans.
“When I came here, my first barrier was English,” Musa said, calling that even more of a problem than the loss of his arm.
“It was so hard,” he said. But he said Andrea Todaro of Innovative Placements kept telling him, “You are going to get a job.”
And she was right, he said.
He started at Wegmans as a cashier. While also earning a bachelor’s degree and then a master’s at SUNY Buffalo State, he worked his way up to coordinator of knowledge-based customer service.
Wegmans is among several local employers who work closely with agencies to hire people with disabilities. Eric Hetzelt, 36, is another who found a place there, starting at the supermarket nearly 15 years ago, after studying culinary arts in high school.
“I had my People Inc. job coach help me through their supportive employment program,” said Hetzelt, who has Down syndrome.
“I slice cold cuts. I wait on customers. My job coach still comes to visit me at work sometimes, and checks in with my bosses.”
But like many people with disabilities, Hetzelt is able to work only part time.
According to information provided by People Inc., employees here who have cognitive disabilities had a mean annual income of $5,233, and, on a national level, such employees averaged 22 hours of work each week, lower even than people with other physical disabilities, who work an average of 31 hours a week.
Combine that with the Buffalo Niagara region’s overall unemployment rate of 6.1 percent, and the job search can be especially tough – made worse by the fact that only 45 percent of students with a disability get their high school diplomas, according to 2012 numbers from New York’s Commission of Education.
Despite the odds, the Buffalo office of ACCES-VR, serving the eight Western New York counties, reports that it helped about 1,200 people with disabilities find jobs in the last fiscal year.
Home Depot is one of the larger employers. Joel Feuerman, a human resources manager for the store in Lockport, made it clear that it is not merely a charitable gesture.
“As an employer, if you are able to hire a person with a developmental disability, you are hiring someone who already has problem-solving skills, commitment and innovative thought processes,” he said. “When you bring them into your organization, they bring those same problem-solving skills with them, which is a great help to our customers.”
For smaller employers, there can be other incentives. Martinez, of ACCES-VR, said the agency helps clients with training and gives employers financial assistance, including paying up to 100 percent of a worker’s wages through a tryout period of several weeks.
The state also offers a Workers with Developmental Disabilities Tax Credit, worth up to $5,000 to businesses for full-time employees and $2,5000 for part-timers who are on the job for more than six months.
In September, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo established the Employment First Commission with the goal of simultaneously increasing employment for people with disabilities and reducing their poverty rate. The commission also will register businesses with specific policies to hire people with disabilities.
Darlella Wiggins of the City of Tonawanda is hoping that more businesses take notice. She has a slight learning disability and has been looking for a job for about a year, getting help from a People Inc. counselor.
“My coach is working with me on trying to find a job and on keeping that job,” Wiggins said. She is 28, has culinary training and would like to work in a restaurant or in retail.
“My disability hasn’t hurt my ability to work – not at all,” she said. “If I have hands-on training, I can learn in a couple of days what might take other people more than a week to learn.”
Wiggins is hopeful that a recent application at a local store could work out. A manager told her that she was among those in the “yes” pile for consideration.
“I might hear in a couple of weeks. Until then, I’ll keep looking,” she said. “As long as you have the right motivation, you can’t get discouraged.”
The age of a home can lead to high maintenance demands and is associated with risk factors such as exposures to lead, asthma triggers, safety hazards and mental health stressors.
A program designed by Heart of the City Neighborhoods, Inc. and Learning Disabilities Association of WNY, was established to respond to this situation. It provides individuals with developmental disabilities, who are at a high-risk of being negatively affected by health hazards in their home, with grants for necessary home improvements and repairs to ensure that their home remains healthy and sustainable.
Please contact Jennifer Steimer of Learning Disabilities Associates at (716)874-7200, ext. 159 for more information.
BORNHAVA MEN’S FORUM
The men’s forum is open to fathers and male caregivers of children with special needs. The forum meets in the evening once a month throughout the school calendar year at Bornhava, 25 Chateau Terrace, Amherst, New York.
The group has been meeting monthly for several years. Approximately twelve fathers have participated in the group, with an average attendance of seven or eight men, fathers of birth to five year olds. It has been a great success. There are ongoing discussions about coping with the handicapping conditions – the stresses, challenges, and rewards of being a father/male caregiver of a child with special needs. There are also many practical discussions about what people are doing for their kids and how to access additional services.
The group is facilitated by a licensed psychologist, Donald Crawford, PhD.
Contact: Ellen Crawford @ 839-1655
The TRAID-In Equipment Exchange Program is a statewide service that connects individuals with disabilities, searching for an affordable means to acquire needed devices, with people who have devices they wish to sell or donate. Call the NYS Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities at 800-624-4143 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for the TRAID-IN Equipment Exchange Program to list, at no cost, devices being sought or devices that are available.
STARLIGHT STUDIO GIFT STORE-click on websitehttp://www.cafepress.com/starlightstudiogiftstore
SUITS FOR TROOPS”
to benefit the Veterans One-Stop Center of WNY
Let’s say thank you to our local veterans by donating lightly-used men’s and women’s suits, along with other professional apparel (ties/shirts/shoes), to help them dress to impress for their job interviews while transitioning into civilian life.
When: December 1st–31st
Drop Off Location:
Mayor Brown and The City of Buffalo Division of Citizen’s Services
Room 218 City Hall
A collaborative effort between Mayor Byron Brown, Erie County Clerk Chris Jacob’s Office and the Erie County Bar Association
Any questions? Contact Keri D. Callocchia, Esq. at 716.883.3953 or email@example.com
*donations are tax-deductible and receipts will be provided
Thursday, January 8, 2015, 7–9 pm
Workshop | Special Education, Transition | Erie
Parents and individuals with disabilities have the opportunity to participate in various meetings with professionals throughout a school year including the annual Committee on Special Education. Participants will walk away with tips on how to be prepared, organized and learn how to be a powerful advocate.
Frontier Education Center
5120 Orchard Ave.
Free to attend.
You can call (716) 332-4170 or email firstname.lastname@example.org