Written by: Isaac He, FCSN Voices Youth Reporter
After serving numerous families, FCSN Supported Living Services has undoubtedly positively impacted many lives. In hopes of helping more families of the special needs community, the coordinators are now ready to branch the program out into helping individuals with high support needs. The current program provides training for basic living skills and can provide 24/7 services when needed and approved by the Regional Center. The program has benefited many individuals with lower support needs who can’t entirely live independently but have higher functioning skills. Recently, the Supported Living Services program has been planning to expand and undergo changes to help more individuals with high support needs, who cannot live their day to day life without support and need constant care. As FCSN Vice President Tapin Hu said, “[Individuals with lower support needs] are the current clients for Supported Living Services, but this program hasn’t had a chance to include high support needs individuals with lower living skills. That is why we want to expand the SLS program to these clients.” This change will allow those without the ability to live on their own to adjust to an independent lifestyle and maintain their livelihood past their parents’ care.
As coordinators work to expand the Supported Living Services program expanding to include high support needs clients, they are already gaining traction and attracting interest from FCSN families. In 2021, FCSN conducted a survey that showed that at least 18 families of high support needs individuals are interested in the service; furthermore, the potential for the success of this program is high. In a parent meeting on April 9th, 15 families attended to learn about the SLS program, which confirmed the need for this service. Hu states, “I believe there are more than that, the need is all there, a large number of people are waiting for FCSN to expand their service.” Many parents are planning on having their high support needs children enter the program in 3-10 years. As Hu further elaborates, “We encourage these families to consider releasing their kids earlier…It’s another challenge we are facing.”
Currently, many families choose group homes for their high support needs children, where special needs individuals live together in a vendor-operated home. The Regional Center, instead of the parents, pays the group home vendor for providing the living services. However, these services are extremely volatile — an ever inflating U.S market puts many group homes at risk of closing down and placing these vulnerable individuals at risk. FCSN’s Supported Living Services changes that, instead having the families control housing and living circumstances, and FCSN only providing caretakers and services. This comes with the benefit of the special needs individuals being able to live in a familiar environment and in housing that is exclusive to themselves, instead of in a crowded environment. The FCSN Supported Living Services program also allows for more flexibility, granting families of special needs individuals the freedom to decide what support and arrangement they need. FCSN Supported Living Services has just begun its journey in branching out into including individuals with high support needs. The program, while in its infancy, has significant potential in providing numerous families with the support they need. The team behind this expansion has completed the intake of 2 pilot clients, and the program also shows signs of rapid expansion. As Hu states, “Now [supported living services for high needs individuals] is pending on the referral process by the regional center.” He also estimates that the setup for the first Supported Living Services for High needs Individuals case will take place in around 30-60 days. However, there are still many hurdles to overcome. As Hu said, “It’s very challenging now to recruit caretakers due to the tight job market. We anticipate the recruitment process may take 3 to 12 months.” Even so, the program shows new exciting developments each day as the coordinators work diligently to open up its services to families in need.
If you believe your child could benefit from Supported Living Services, read more at https://fcsn1996.org/projects-grid/sls-program/ and contact Claudia Piña ( firstname.lastname@example.org) or Vivian Chung (email@example.com) with any further questions. If your child has higher needs and likes to learn more about the adaptive adult living services, please contact Tapin Hu (firstname.lastname@example.org).