Jan 26, 2012
Milwaukee, Wis. (1/26/12) - Lutheran Social Services (LSS) of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, Inc. announced a new direction in the way it provides services to people with disabilities. Statewide, LSS supports more than 2,000 individuals with disabilities, whose services are paid for primarily through Family Care, Wisconsin's long-term care program for older adults and people with disabilities. LSS is focusing on more client-driven, cost effective, and community-based supports for persons with disabilities.
"It's time for a paradigm shift in the way we provide services to people with disabilities in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan," says David Larson, president and CEO of LSS. "In the past, LSS has been the traditional provider that cared for individuals with disabilities in residential group homes. Moving forward, we will be focusing on how families and communities can support people in different ways and how LSS can encourage, educate, advocate and support people to become true citizens in their local communities through Supported Living. A true citizen is entitled to rights that include voting in elections, working and paying taxes, volunteering in the community and being an involved member of their community."
LSS' transition from residential service provider to its Supported Living concept will take place over the next 2 years and will impact residential programs statewide.
"Supported Living, non-facility based day support, and family leadership will all play a role in the new service options at LSS," says Rita Wiersma, executive director at LSS. "It is based on a person having a home of their own, making their own day-to-day choices, and deciding who they relate to in the community. LSS' role will be to support people with disabilities in this new paradigm and provide flexible, tailored supports to help them be a vibrant part of their community."
"Fundamentally, Supported Living is an alliance between a person who requires long-term, publicly funded, organized assistance and an agency whose role is to arrange or provide whatever assistance is necessary for the person to live in a decent and secure home that they can not only call their own, but actually is their own," explains Wiersma.
Beyond Supported Living, LSS will also provide Personalized Day Support services, a non-facility based day support concept designed to be a complement to employment, not a substitute. For example, if an individual works 20 hours a week, Personalized Day Support would provide services around the person's hours of employment and then assist the person to find volunteer work, attend school, or consider opening up their own business. LSS can provide coaching, assistance, mentoring, financial planning and benefits management, and help in accessing public and private resources.
In addition to supported living and non-facility based day support, family leadership also plays a key role for persons with disabilities. "There is nothing like having a family to give the love and support needed to ensure a thriving life," says Wiersma. LSS believes in keeping families involved with children and/or adults with disabilities. The family leadership approach calls on families to engage their legislative representatives to advocate for persons with disabilities. Such leadership includes community involvement and advocating for issues such as education and medical service. The support services that are available to families are geared toward providing the assistance that a family may need or desire in order to ensure that the family remains involved and connected.
Lutheran Social Services (LSS) of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, Inc. is a non-profit organization that offers a variety of community-based and residential services to people in 80-plus communities throughout Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. Our mission is "Motivated by the Compassion of Christ, we help people improve the quality of their lives." As the social ministry arm of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Lutheran Social Services has over 1,500 employees. Last year, LSS helped more than 100,000 people of all ages and faiths improve the quality of their lives. Lutheran Social Services is a United Way agency, a member of the Alliance for Children and Families, and accredited through the Council on Accreditation (COA). To learn more about LSS, visit www.lsswis.org.
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