Although it remains warm and muggy, all signs point to fall with the beginning of school and all of its inherent hustle and bustle. I want to look back on the past fiscal year, which for us ended on July 1. Options & Advocacy continues to do much good in our community despite the challenges it experiences from the State of Illinois.
Our Child & Family Connections program, which serves children under the age of three who are experiencing a delay in their development, received 725 new referrals. At any point in time we are serving 545 children and families. This program consistently ranks near the top statewide. They are in a leadership role in the AOK (All Our Kids) Network, which is a community based group that is committed to having young children ready to learn when they enter the school system.
Our Community Access Coordination program served 840 individuals and their families this year. This program serves children and adults with lifelong intellectual/developmental disabilities. They are responsible for getting people into the state PUNS database, monitoring group homes in the county as well as those who receive home based services. They are responsible for seeking funding from the state for people who are in crisis situations. That is a particularly difficult role to fulfill. They are passionate advocates for our families and participated in 159 IEP (school) meetings.
Our smallest program, Autism Support Program served 244 children and adults this year. That is an increase of 27% from last year. They conducted 81 classroom observations and participated in 187 IEP (school) meetings. They held 33 support group meetings.
We celebrated our 6th year of Sibshops! This beautiful program is designed for the siblings of anyone with an exceptional need. The curriculum is used around the world and is specifically designed to support siblings. These kids are the teachers, therapists, world changers of tomorrow! It is a wonderful way to support them and acknowledge their unique experiences and learning.
That’s a lot of numbers and lot of people! Our 31 Options & Advocacy staff members are passionate and compassionate. We know how difficult it is to have someone with special needs in your family. We know how difficult it is sometimes to find the answers to very tough questions. We also know how wonderfully you support your family members. As I look ahead, please know that we will continue to our best to support you.
Please consider attending our annual fundraiser, Midnight in Paris, on September 17.
It’s a privilege to a part of your lives.