Disability Support Services: Gaining Independence

Children’s Aid and Family Services offers a full array of services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including the STRIVE day program, community residences (group homes), in-home supports, occupational therapy, and a recreation program.

A member’s journey toward more independence often begins at the STRIVE day program.

Many of STRIVE’s members, all over age 21, come from a school environment where by law special needs services are provided. As they transition into adulthood, the need for enriching activities becomes more pressing. “It can be challenging when many services are no longer available after a member reaches adulthood, so at STRIVE we offer a full range of activities to help fill that gap including life skills training, community involvement, and self-sufficiency programs,” says Bryan Connelly, Director, Adult Day Program and Supports.

Becoming part of the STRIVE day program also helps members grow and develop new interests, says Bryan: “Someone may join us not yet interested in pursuing a job but as they learn new skills and see friends in the program going to work or joining the pre-vocational program, their interests may change.”

The goal is to use these programs as stepping stones leading to a higher level of independence. STRIVE also fills the need for daily recreational activities like painting, dancing, and Zumba. Members learn to cook in the commercial kitchen and gather in the media room to learn to safely navigate the internet. Plans are underway for a bank representative to talk about financial literacy, how to use a debit card, and more.

The goal is to use these programs as stepping stones leading to a higher level of independence.

Community involvement and engagement is emphasized and includes food shopping and trips to Pony Power Therapies, based in Mahwah, where people with disabilities are connected to the world of horses, farming, and nature. Participation in cultural activities is also encouraged and members recently visited the Martin Luther King Jr. statue in Newark and the Paterson Museum. “We’re a community-based program,” says Bryan. “And we go out as much as we can to continue growing and learning.”

Fun is always on the schedule as well with a winter prom attended by many recently. “We celebrate everything,” says Bryan. “We have a big Cinco de Mayo party and Thanksgiving is a big holiday event here every year. We have a nice grill for our annual Fourth of July parties. We love to celebrate life!”

For more information, visit Children’s Aid and Family Services | Day Habilitation / STRIVE (cafsnj.org)

Contact Us

Recent Posts