Provider fair gives families options for members with disabilities

NILES, Ohio (WYTV) – National and statewide budget cuts to facilities for people with disabilities have left many families wondering where to turn for care.

Federal and state-funded places for those with disabilities, like Fairhaven in Niles, have to stop enrolling people and find new caregivers for hundreds of current members.

Families like Melissa Jones’, whose kids have to leave high school by 22 years old, now have to find a new plan.

The Trumbull County Board of Developmental Disabilities hosted a Provider Fair Thursday so families could see their options. Over 20 providers were there to help parents and families who have someone with a disability coming out of school. They covered everything from busing to adult daycare.

“I need to see what else is out there to keep their interest going, to keep them active after high school,” Jones said.

The families that already have kids enrolled at the county’s facilities have to look for backup plans.

Gerald Eskay’s two sons are enrolled at Fairhaven. He says their situation is up in the air.

“I hope they can keep going on their daily sessions at the workshop, but I’m just not getting all of the answers.”

The funding that was in place for facilities like Fairhaven will now go to the community providers.

Private providers say they’re excited to participate in the fair, and know their businesses are growing because of the budget cuts.

Christine Ellingsworth, with Caregiver Homes, says that 25 percent of people receiving waiver services will become shared living users.

“I don’t know if it’ll be more customers, but definitely more services that need to be provided,” said Ashley King, with Independence, Inc.

Care from private providers depends on the individual’s needs. Tracey Bernhard, with the CLW Group, says that’s a plus to private care because everything is tailored to each person.

“Outside of the box? Guess what? I can provide that, my staff can provide that. We can just say, ‘Okay, let’s try it.’ If it doesn’t work, we try something else.”

The Trumbull County Board of Developmental Disabilities will still oversee all of the provider care and make sure families get the service they need.