A Salina based organization that provides child services in multiple states is expanding. Saint Francis Community Services is expanding its reach.
Saint Francis Community Services, best known as a provider of foster care and adoption services in Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas on Aug. 1 will assume operation of the Cheshire Program in Gulfport, Mississippi, providing supervised, shared and supported living services for adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDD). Saint Francis has operated a similar program – Bridgeway Apartments in Picayune, Mississippi – since 2000.
The Cheshire Program – which has been operated by the South Mississippi Regional Center – is a community living program providing supervised and shared supported living and life skills services to 20 adults with IDD. Both Bridgeway and Cheshire programs provide varying levels of support and assistance, such as personal care, transportation, budgeting, shopping, and health monitoring.
“Saint Francis Community Services is already certified by the Mississippi Department of Mental Health to provide living support and employment services to people with IDD, which fits well with the needs at Cheshire,” said Jason Kirkland, Saint Francis’ Mississippi Director of Operations. “Our Bridgeway Apartments in Picayune is an excellent model for providing living services, as well as job skills training and placement. Adding a job skills component will be a significant enhancement to Cheshire’s current services and is a win-win for the residents, the Gulfport community, and the state.”
“Saint Francis is honored to further serve the state of Mississippi and the Mississippi Department of Mental Health with the addition of the Cheshire Program,” said The Very Reverend Robert N. Smith, Dean and CEO of Saint Francis Community Services. “Our organization has long been recognized nationally and internationally for transforming lives and systems in ways other believe impossible. Our partnerships with area employers in Picayune have demonstrably enriched the lives of the residents by providing meaningful, valued jobs in the workforce. We feel privileged to engage in that process and look forward to extending those partnerships in the Gulfport area.”
“We are tremendously excited to expand and serve people with IDD in Gulfport,” Kirkland added. “Saint Francis places a premium on job coaching and training, helping connect people with jobs that fit well with their skills. Our focus on jobs not only allows people with IDD to live more independently, but also contributes to their sense of self-worth and belonging. All people living at Bridgeway either have jobs of their choosing or are in the process of finding employment. We’ve found that offering employment services provides a major boost to a person’s mental, physical and emotional health.”
Gulfport employers, or people with IDD interested in participating in the program, can contact Kirkland at 601-749-4848 or [email protected] for more information.
“We provide training and ongoing supervision and coaching to the employee, at no cost to the employer,” Kirkland said. “We’ve had extremely successful partnerships with Picayune businesses like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Home Depot, WalMart, Claiborne Hill Supermarket and Picayune Drug Co., just to name a few. We have 23 different employers in Picayune who understand that by hiring a person with intellectual or developmental disabilities, they are gaining an extremely loyal, hard-working employee who typically has low absenteeism and a high level of retention.”
No changes in fees are expected for Cheshire residents. There will be no additional fees for the job training component either, Kirkland said. Fees will continue to be billed as in the past, through each person’s state-issued Medicaid waiver.
Founded in 1945 in Ellsworth, Kansas, Saint Francis Community Services encompasses foster care, therapeutic foster care, adoption, family preservation, residential care, and community outreach services. The organization serves more than 30,000 clients through child and family welfare services in Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas, Mississippi, and Central America. Additionally, Saint Francis provides supervised living and employment services for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Mississippi. The organization is headquartered in Salina.