ARC of Oswego County Enhances Respite and Recreational Programs

Staff members Tammy Lewchanin (left) and Kandy Besaw (right) introduce Shannon Mulcahey (center) to a new, four-legged friend.
Staff members Tammy Lewchanin (left) and Kandy Besaw (right) introduce Shannon Mulcahey (center) to a new, four-legged friend.

OSWEGO COUNTY, NY – ARC of Oswego County has enhanced its Respite and Social-Recreation programs to provide more opportunities for individuals with behavior management needs. Although the nonprofit’s Social-Recreation and Respite programs have been quite popular for years, the funding for the program has been low enough that one-to-one ratios of participants to staff have not been possible. While the majority of individuals with disabilities do not need such intensive support, there are still those individuals who, because of various behavior management needs, require additional support and therefore have not been able to participate.

With supplemental funding from Family Support Services, ARC of Oswego County can now provide Respite or Social-Recreation opportunities to some of those individuals. A trained behavioral specialist has been working with staff, service coordinators, families, and other individuals to create a specialized behavior plan for each individual participating in the enhanced program. Staff that are providing the services are familiar with each individual’s behavior history and management needs, and are trained in both proactive and reactive measures. Finally, the additional funding will allow for a 1-to-1 or even 2-to-1 staff-to-participant ratio as needed to maximize safety and achieve the best outcome for all participants. For now, these special outings will be limited to 16 events during the year, but could grow if more funding is identified.

The benefits of recreational experiences for individuals with disabilities are well documented, and include education, physical fitness, community inclusion, and improved mental state. Because caring for individuals with high behavior management issues can be particularly exhausting, it is also invaluable to families and other caregivers to have additional respite opportunities provided. To date, no other agency in Oswego County is providing these services to individuals in need of behavior management supports.

ARC of Oswego County is a private, not-for-profit organization which has been providing programs and services to children and seniors with disabilities since 1955. Services include Early Intervention and evaluation services for infants and toddlers, guardianship assistance, recreational and respite activities, senior day habilitation programs, and more. Its mission is to be a leader in the field of developmental disabilities, committed to meeting the needs of individual growth, productivity, and independence through education, advocacy, and increased community acceptance and participation. Its sister agency, Oswego Industries, Inc., provides services to adults with disabilities: together creating a comprehensive support system for Oswego County residents with disabilities.