Fircrest hosts Community Resource Event for residents and families
Contact: Lisa Pemberton, DSHS Communications (360) 902–7844
The coffee shop at Fircrest Residential Habilitation Center in Shoreline was abuzz with activity recently as residents and families gathered for its first-ever Community Resource Event.
About 20 organizations and programs hosted information tables at the event, including supported employment programs, community residential providers, advocacy groups and other resources that are designed to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities live with independence in the community. The event was sponsored by the Department of Social and Health Services’ Developmental Disabilities Administration.
“It’s just an opportunity for people to learn about community services and see if it’s right for their loved ones or themselves,” said Tom Farrow, the Community Transition Unit Manager within DSHS DDA. Fircrest staff were also invited to attend the event so that they can be informed about community options that are open to residents.
Residential habilitation centers like Fircrest used to be places where someone might live their entire life. Now they’re designed to be more of a temporary place to learn independent living skills and prepare people for living in their own community.
The Community Resource Event was one of several efforts by the Roads to Community Living Program, which provides support and services to people and their families who are considering or have decided to move from a residential habilitation center or other qualified setting to a home in the community. Roads to Community Living collaborates and provides support needed for DSHS DDA clients to live successfully in the community.
Similar events have been held at DSHS’ Rainier School in Buckley, and Lakeland Village in Medical Lake. Yakima Valley School in Selah plans to host a community resource event next spring.
Currently, about 25 Fircrest residents have asked to be placed on the list to transition into the community, according to Fircrest Superintendent Shirley Pilkey. It’s a huge step, and it can be scary for the individual and their family members, she said.
“Sometimes there’s trauma associated with it,” Pilkey said. “It’s a change in people’s lives. We have to be very careful to do as much transitional planning as the person needs.”
The Community Resource Fair gave attendees a chance to meet with providers, advocates, nonprofits and DDA staff who could share information about community options such as adult family homes, companion homes, State Operated Living Alternatives and other programs.
The Oct. 5 event was like a college fair — attendees could pick up brochures and swag, and talk about those next steps, without making a commitment.
Farrow said the events will likely become an annual tradition.