The State of Massachusetts has awarded Northeast Arc a $300,000 grant for its “A Weekend to Remember: Respite Program.” This program provides a “vacation” for young adults while offering respite to caregivers, families, and staff. It is geared towards for transition age young adults aged 16 – 30 with intellectual disabilities and/or autism and behavioral health challenges. The weekend features a structured curriculum where participants will focus on developing independent living skills. The goal is to bridge the gap between families who need care, resources, and information, and eligibility for state-funded adult services.

“We are thankful to the Healey-Driscoll Administration for supporting this innovative approach to respite for families,” said Stacey Villani, director of Northeast Arc’s Family Services division. “Responses so far to this program have been extremely positive. Families have been impressed by the resources offered and the opportunity for networking.”

In all, the state awarded $18.3 million in grants to organizations and communities across Massachusetts to provide short-term relief to families or primary caregivers of individuals with complex needs.

Northeast Arc’s program curriculum focuses on the following:

  • Community Safety
  • Public Transportation and Rideshare (Uber, Lyft)
  • Healthy Meal Planning, Shopping, Preparing, and Cleanup
  • Safe Kitchen Tool and Appliance Use
  • Personal Finance (Budgeting)
  • Home Safety and Emergency Preparedness
  • Social Interactions and Living with a Roommate
  • Interpersonal Relationships

“This program is a great example of how Northeast Arc works to not just support people with disabilities, but also their families,” said Jo Ann Simons, president and CEO of Northeast Arc. “I’m glad the state recognized the innovative nature of this program, and its ability to promote independence for young adults, while also providing much needed respite to parents and caregivers.”

As part of the lessons on meal planning and preparation, the program will address food deserts and food insecurity and share information about resources to access affordable, nutritious food. There will be focus on cooking skills such as identifying materials needed (appropriate measuring cups, pans, pots, plates, cutlery), food safety, and allergens. The program will also promote dietary independence through self-advocacy. The weekends will run from Friday night to Sunday morning to give the young adults an overnight stay experience in an apartment setting. The Northeast Arc plans to utilize its Assistive Technology Lending library to offer individualized device loans for each weekend.

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