Meeting the challenges of a fiscal squeeze, a shift in best practices, or public attitudinal change can be met by transforming existing assets rather than “fading into the night.”
Child Residential Treatment
At one time in the last decade there were over 50,000 children in “residential” treatment centers. Most were foster children living in hundreds of sites that were updated orphanages. As the number of foster children declined and many practitioners realized they could get the same results in less expensive community programs, Residential Treatment Centers began to struggle. The trend has continued and now for dozens of centers the future looks bleak. One option being explored by several centers is to “transform” the grounds to a social purposed retirement community. The center would convert to serving foster children in an intergenerational community built in and around the buildings left from a rapidly disappearing era.
Juvenile Justice De-Institutionalization
Significant changes are happening in the programs directed at youth that have been sent to juvenile justice system. Several states are moving their approaches away from the “correctional” institution model and increasing programs that promise better long term results. Aftercare practices are also changing so that programming relates to housing, community, schooling and civic responsibility. An exciting new approach is being planned in Illinois that would create a new intergenerational community and charter school for foster children that are currently in the state juvenile corrections system.
Aging Family Caregivers and the threat of re-institutionalization.
National surveys of caregivers indicate that there are over700,000 long term family caregivers that are over the age of 60 years. That number is growing. As fraility of the caregiver increases the independence of the whole family disappears. Solutions such as nursing homes and institutional homes for the developmentally disabled provide a bleak future for this population. A unique solution that is being developed in a couple of sites around the country is to create an intergenerational community of a variety of living settings. A comprehensive service, natural community will allow aging caregivers to stay in their home settings longer. It will also allow the dependent person real community care for the rest of their lives.
Shifting from Developmentally Disabled Group Homes
Improving the quality of life for persons with Down Syndrome and saving significant amounts of state and Federal resources is possible implementing a combination of steps in a program created by Better Living. It is well known that up to 80 percent of all persons with Down Syndrome will be diagnosed with Alzheimer Disease. For many this issue will appear as the reach their late thirties. For the caregiver, or group home management the first indications are behavior issues. Like all Alzheimer the disease expands non-functionality until nursing home or some other high cost alternative becomes the only option. There is more and more scientific evidence that while Alzheimer cannot be prevented, a combination of health management and life style changes can have an ameliorating impact on Alzheimer symptoms. In this case keeping a person in their family home or in a group home maintains the quality of life and saves the state and federal government significant amounts of money.