New Community Living Program for Adults with Autism to Launch in Westchester

New Community Living Program for Adults with Autism to Launch in Westchester

Neighborhood Network of New York has received a $1 million grant to launch a first-of-its-kind community living services program for adults with autism in Westchester, with plans to expand the program throughout New York State.


Neighborhood Network of New York has been awarded a $1 million grant by the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities to develop a first-of-its-kind, person-centered, community-based service network for adults with autism spectrum disorder. Spearheaded by New York Collaborates for Autism and Community Living Opportunities, NNNY combines individualized services, propriety remote support technology, and integrated community activities.

The grant came from OPWDD’s New York State Balancing Incentive Program Transformation Fund, which intends to transform non-institutional, long-term services for people with developmental disabilities. The grant will enable NNNY to launch a prototype neighborhood network in Westchester County that serves Medicaid beneficiaries and develop protocols to replicate similar networks throughout New York State.

Neighborhood Network of New York helps answer the nation’s growing demand for affordable, individualized, and dynamic support services for adults with special needs, while conserving financial resources,” says Ilene Lainer, president of New York Collaborates for Autism.

A departure from current residential models, Neighborhood Network of New York promotes a new living standard for adults with autism by creating neighborhood support networks that empower people to live productive and enriched lives with greater independence. Clients reside in the larger community with or near professional families or neighbors who are trained to mentor them through daily life. Service professionals, clinicians, and community members, aided by individualized remote technology, enhance this network, delivering on-demand, affordable support, as well as learning programs and community immersion opportunities.

“NNNY will connect people with special needs to the support services they require, when they need them, through the creation of a ‘smart’ neighborhood-within-a-neighborhood,” says Michael Strouse, Ph.D., president, Community Living Opportunities and HomeLink Support Technologies. “Uniquely designed to use existing homes and apartments, NNNY leverages limited financial resources for what matters most: support and building community connections.”

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NNNY's approach combines three innovative features:

1. Individualized Living Services for all Levels of Need - Clients may live alone or with a roommate in apartment complexes where other clients and non-NNNY residents also live. Trained and certified professionals, who reside nearby with their own families, provide individualized mentoring and guidance 24/7. Those who require greater support may live with a professional family in a home setting.

2. Proprietary Remote Support Technology - NNNY homes will be fitted with remote technology, developed by CLO, that offers tailored security and communications features, following custom privacy protocols.  Cameras and sensors allow professionals to personally interact with clients from a monitoring center within the community to ensure their safety, provide real-time coaching, and trigger additional clinical intervention on an as needed (and therefore less costly, basis.)

3. The Communiversity – Expanding on traditional day services, the Communiversity facilitates life-long learning with a curriculum that reinforces critical life-skills, job readiness and volunteer training, as well as communal and recreational activities that encourage social immersion and inclusion in the wider community.

“Current options for people with autism and other disabilities, such as group homes, in-home staffing, and traditional day services are expensive, relying upon 24-hour staff that may not always be needed. NNNY offers a viable and realistic, alternative living model, which promotes independence within a structured, caring, and inclusive community,” Lainer says. “This program is timely and critical, especially with more than half a million teens with ASD expected to become adults in the next decade.”

“NNNY will use nationally-regarded, evidence-based, community service models, quality assurance systems, and remote technology supports developed by CLO over three decades,” adds Strouse. “We look forward to the opportunity to combine these features in the Northeast, to deliver unprecedented individual, person-centered outcomes for people with developmental disabilities.”