Our May meeting primarily consisted of a presentation on transition services by representatives from Community Enterprises. The mission of Community Enterprises, Inc. is “to support self-determination for individuals with disabilities and/or other challenges to actively live, learn, and work in the community.” They work with 18 to 22 year olds in Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden counties as well as in Connecticut in New York. Community Enterprises has contracts with the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services, Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission/Statewide Head Injury Program to provide these services.
Community Enterprises offers transition resources to clients and families. One of which involves working with 15 area schools to help in IEP development. Schools generally focus on one-on-one support, but it is important during transition time to learn that is not available in the workplace. The goal is to train and support clients to help them earn a living wage. Community Enterprises aligns their clients to job skills by their strengths and interests. The clients have the opportunity to discover what they like to do by trying different jobs. This allows them to get used to having a work schedule. Community Enterprises teaches clients to advocate for themselves in the work place and receive support during the job training period and periodically afterwards. Another model Community Enterprises uses to help clients get into the workforce is through group employment with support of a job coach, for example packaging produce at $8 per hour.
Community Enterprises also provides guidance with independent living skills, such as cooking, laundry, money management, and travel. The help clients connect with college resources and offer social coaching. For example, the ASSET program at Holyoke Community College (Achieve Success through Supported Education and Training) is an intensive job training program in Business or Culinary Arts. Mary Curtin is the contact for this program at Community Enterprises.
Another program offered through Community Enterprises is Adult Family Care or Home Share program. The program staff can be contacted at (413) 733-1240, ext. 128 and are located in Pittsfield, Springfield, and Holyoke. The program provides support and services for individuals over 16 years old who are receiving MassHealth or Commonwealth Care and have a permanent disability. Individuals who qualify must require extra assistance with care, meaning a nurse and care manager visit regularly. You do not qualify is you receive PCA services in your home. There are two levels of care. Level one is prompting and supervising self-care while level two is hands-on assistance. MassHealth provides reimbursement depending what level of care is assigned; Level one is $24/day and level two is $49/day. Spouses and legal guardians are not eligible for this reimbursement, but other family members can provide support and be reimbursed. This program’s goal is to keep people with disabilities out of nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities because living with a family member is often more comfortable than other options.
Community Enterprises Contacts:
Mary Curtin, Director Holyoke: 413-536-4200
Stephanie Tonelli, Community Developer Springfield: 413-733-1240
John Tierney, Community Developer: 413-499-1248, Ext. 16