There are many models of residential care for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Apartment and group home living are two of the most common. Intentional Communities-Washtenaw (ICW) in Ann Arbor and His Eye is on the Sparrow are two other Ann Arbor area non-profit organizations that provide residential care for adults with special needs. JARC and Angel’s Place, both in Southfield, are two others.
St. Louis Center’s current campus-based group home model is another. It is unique in that residents reside on campus in group homes, but have regular, ongoing opportunities to be part of the wider Chelsea community.
With the Legacy Project, St. Louis Center is expanding its residential offerings, including providing independent living opportunities on campus in a village setting.
Approximately 60% of annual revenues are from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, county community mental health agencies, and other state agencies. Private payments plus SSI payments for residents' care generate approximately 10% of annual revenues. The remaining 30% must be raised each year through fund raising.
St. Louis Center is supported by the generosity of private individuals, foundations, corporations, organizations, and businesses. Local parishes and state and local Knights of Columbus councils also support St. Louis Center through their charitable collections.
The Catholic Diocese of Lansing promotes St. Louis Center’s work through its Faith Magazine and to its affiliate organizations. They do not provide financial support to St. Louis Center.
St. Louis Center is challenged to raise operating funds necessary to cover the cost of the benevolent care that lies at the heart of the Center’s mission. Annually the Center must raise approximately $1.5M to bridge the gap between the actual cost of benevolent care and funds received from public agencies and private payments to that end.
Since 1960, St. Louis Center has served over 750 children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Measurable outcomes that have been achieved throughout the Center’s history go well beyond number of individuals served. They include resident and family satisfaction scores, achievement of personal goals, adoption and family reunification rates, employment rates, academic success and high school graduation rates, and involvement in community-based volunteering and in fitness and wellness activities, among others. St. Louis Center strengthens families and helps meet their emotional needs by caring for their loved one with I/DD.
There are approximately 50 individuals ages 6 to 60+ who reside at St. Louis Center at any given time. The Center has the capacity to serve 90 individuals, but prefers to care for a much smaller number in order to provide the specialized care necessary to help each resident achieve his or her full potential. St. Louis Center also provides respite services to families who are caring for members with I/DD.
St. Louis Center offers a wide array of programs and activities for its residents that service their emotional, physical, and stated spiritual needs.
Activities of daily living (ADL) include but are not limited to:
• Instruction in self-care
• Life-skills training (communication and relationship-building, cooking, cleaning, etc.)
• Work activities on- and off-campus
• Regular opportunities to exercise and move more on- and off-site through “Fitness for Life”
• Non-directive therapy in the soothing, yet stimulating Snoezelen Room for residents with Autism Spectrum Disorder
• Programs to address the stated spiritual needs of residents
• Art activities
• Enrollment in formal schooling through the Chelsea School District including maintaining close working relationships with residents’ teachers and counselors
• Academic support
• Field trips to local parks, visits to the Chelsea Public Library, theaters, street fairs (Chelsea's Sounds and Sights weekly summer street festival), movies, and Tigers and Lugnuts games
• Saturday Morning Challengers Bowling League in Ann Arbor, sponsored by St. Louis Center
• Participation in Kiwanis Aktion Club, a club for people with I/DD that promotes leadership development, and in activities organized by the Knights of Columbus and the Chelsea Rotary
• Participation in Michigan Special Olympics
Activities vary, depending upon the resident's age and disability:
During the academic year, the children and adolescents living at St. Louis Center attend public schools. They are transported to and from school by the public school system. Residents with more severe disabilities are provided one-on-one support throughout the day, both at school and at St. Louis Center.
Often, high school youth groups, 4-H, or other community groups come to St. Louis Center to play and interact with the children in the evening and on the weekends. These mutually beneficial activities normally take place out of doors or in the gym, depending upon the weather.
Residents ages 18-26 continue to attend school as well. St. Louis Center residents attend the Young Adult Programs of the local school systems which provide them with academic support, life skills training, recreational activities, and volunteer opportunities. In the late afternoon and evening, they enjoy socializing with one another, working out on site or at the Chelsea Wellness Center, going on field trips, or engaging in special events.
The majority of residents who are no longer in school are employed in the community, either through private employment or through the Washtenaw County Community Support Treatment Services (CSTS). St. Louis Center's social work staff endeavor to facilitate regular community employment opportunities for adults living at St. Louis Center. Residents enrolled in CSTS perform regular community volunteering, supporting such agencies as Faith-in-Action, Goodwill, Meals on Wheels, and local churches.
St. Louis Center operates an Adult Day Program five days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The Day Program is set-up for St. Louis Center residents and for individuals receiving respite care at the Center. Day Program staff strives to ensure that each participant is engaging in activities that support his or her individualized needs.
Day Program activities include delivering Meals on Wheels, art, recycling, cooking, sorting and organizing donated food and other items, making decorations for special events, maintaining the agency bulletin board, gardening, reading, walking, playing board games, going on field trips, and entertaining guests.
Like everyone, the people who live at St. Louis Center enjoy integration with their families on weekends, holidays, and vacations; going out; engaging in meaningful activities; being with their friends; and working.
During the summer months, school-age residents are provided with safe, fun filled enrichment activities, including excursions and field trips. Some residents qualify for the “extended school year” and attend school until the middle of August while others attend summer school. Each year, St. Louis Center raises funds at its annual Fall Auction & Dinner to help offset the cost of one week of overnight camp for many residents.
Residents who are employed continue their work throughout the summer months but participate in late afternoon, evening and weekend activities planned to make their summers enjoyable and enriching.
The majority of St. Louis Center’s residents originate from southeast Michigan, primarily Wayne and Washtenaw Counties. SLC cares for individuals from throughout the state of Michigan and occasionally from out-of-state. Residents are privately placed by their families or caregivers or by the State of Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Length of stay is determined on a case by case basis. Some residents have left and have come back, based on their individual circumstances. Others who have learned the skills necessary to live independently have moved to apartments. St. Louis Center provides a continuum of care for its residents, with the objective of preparing residents to become as independent as possible.
When a resident leaves the care of St. Louis Center, the agency's social work staff visits the former resident for two months in his or her new placement.
St. Louis Center highly values family relationships and believes that family care elements are the key to personal formation. Through its family integration program, those children and adults who have family outside of St. Louis Center visit them often. The Center provides the transportation necessary for residents to see their families.
In 2010, its 50th anniversary year, St. Louis Center created a blueprint for its future, the Legacy Project, which lays the foundation for continued program excellence. Through the Legacy Project, St. Louis Center is responding to the major challenges on the horizon for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. One of the greatest challenges is to meet the housing and care needs of the growing number of people who are aging and whose family members or other caregivers can no longer care for them.
Development of the Legacy Project is taking the Center's work to a new level of local, regional, and statewide impact by creating a continuum of life-long care for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Future plans include counseling and other services for the whole family in order to maintain family unity.