Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Charles Family SmartHome in Longmont Open House

The Charles Family SmartHome in Longmont Open House was a great success. About 60 people attended. Local state representatives Claire Levy and Deb Gardner were there, along with benefactors Bob Charles III and Dale Charles. Thanks to Imagine! Foundation board members Leona Stoecker, Julie Vlier, and new board member Chris Leh for attending and bringing guests. And many thanks to the 16 staff members who made this event possible and also attended!

Sarah and Pramilla helped greet guests.

Loren played DJ for the event, using his computer to select songs.

New Foundation board member Chris Leh and Colorado State Representative Claire Levy.

Anthony showed off his computer skills to the guests.

Wes demonstrated his “Heads or Tails” game, which uses his computerized communication device to teach basic math skills.

SmartHome tech guru Alex Andrews demonstrated some of the home’s technology to Colorado State Representative Deb Gardner.

Charles Family SmartHome in Longmont benefactors Bob Charles III and Dale Charles.

Imagine! CEO Mark Emery enjoys a private chat with Sarah.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Support Imagine! While You Shop at iGive.com

If you shop online, you can also automatically raise money for Imagine!. iGive.com offers a free membership that allows you to shop as usual at many of your favorite online sites that will then donate a percentage of your purchase to Imagine!. iGive.com has 800+ stores to choose from including such familiar names as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Coldwater Creek, eBay, Eddie Bauer, Expedia, Kohl’s, Lands End, Nordstrom, Office Max, Petco, Sports Authority, and Staples.

When you are a member and you go to your favorite site, a small message box will drop down briefly to tell you what percentage of your purchase will go to Imagine!. It’s that easy! Imagine! has been receiving money from iGive.com since 2000 and has earned $1,063. However, this amount has been earned through just a handful of people. iGive.com suggests that the typical online shopper can generate $20-$40 per year for Imagine!.

We’d like to encourage everyone who shops online to consider joining iGive.com (remember – it’s free!) and designating Imagine! as the recipient of the online percentage. Each new member earns $5 for Imagine! right off the bat!

Click here to get started!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Imagine! Foster Parents Serve As Inspiration

Imagine!’s Innovations for Children Department has a Foster Care Program that is a therapeutic child placement agency that specializes in working with special needs children and at-risk youth with difficult behavioral and emotional challenges.

Today, we’d like to highlight one couple whose efforts to assist some of our most vulnerable citizens by acting as foster providers serve as an inspiration to all of us at the Imagine! Foundation.

Bill and Susan Long have been therapeutic foster providers for more than 20 years. They have served more than 40 children, providing the best care imaginable. They currently care for two children with developmental disabilities and are committed to helping them live to their potential until they turn 21. They provide a safe environment where the children know what to expect, and know what is expected of them.

Bill and Susan believe in a team approach, and make every effort possible to ensure that therapists, caseworkers, behavioral interventionists, and biological parents are all on the same page in regard to the child’s care and services. This allows each child to feel safe, and ensures a consistent environment and approach to their needs.

Bill and Susan work diligently with the biological family, supporting efforts to reunify when applicable. This includes sharing interventions that work, and ensuring that they are kept in the loop with school issues, mental health issues, and behavioral issues. Bill and Susan communicate extensively with the child’s school to ensure a common understanding of each child’s needs, and advocate for additional services as needed. They attend all school meetings and are the first to advocate for continued services and special accommodations.

When Bill and Susan are considering bringing other children into their home, the needs and the safety of the current children always come first. They are happy to help more children, but they are also cognizant of how essential it is to have a good fit. While Bill and Susan have been doing this for 20 years, they consistently seek new information and attend all of the trainings offered to them. They are open to the ideas of others, and seek out the opinion of the behaviorist and other staff members.

Bill and Susan are active with the kids, taking them on several family vacations a year, and providing the extended family experience through their many children and grandchildren. In fact, Bill and Susan enlisted all three of their biological children into being foster parents for children with high needs, setting an amazing example of dedication and caring for others. Their skill at advocacy has also heightened awareness for children with disabilities.

Bill and Susan currently serve two very challenging youth, both of whom have a developmental disability and a mental health diagnosis. They provide a calm and consistent approach as they deal with self-injurious behaviors, hours of tantrums, and aggressiveness on a daily basis. They love the kids, but they also see themselves as professionals and hold themselves to high expectations. They go out of their way to include the children in all activities that can help build their social skills and integrate them into the community. Most people would not volunteer to take these kids on a three week vacation in an RV, but they do! Every summer! And, the kids LOVE it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Imagine!'s IBHS Nominated For NOVA Award

Imagine!’s IBHS Mental Health Supports program has just been nominated for The Community Foundation of Boulder County NOVA award! Check out the information from the nomination below to learn more about this innovative collaboration.

The mission of Imagine! is to create and offer innovative supports to people of all ages with cognitive, developmental, physical, and health related needs so they may live fulfilling lives of independence and quality in their homes and communities. Imagine!’s guiding philosophy is that all individuals, regardless of ability or disability, have talents and strengths that make them vital members of their communities.

Since 1963, Imagine! has coordinated care for local people of all ages who have developmental delays or disabilities. This care is usually initiated at birth and – for those clients who are eventually diagnosed with a disability – it continues until the end of life.

Some of the individuals in Imagine!'s care have mental illness in addition to their developmental disabilities. Mental Health Partners (MHP, formerly the Mental Health Center of Boulder and Broomfield Counties) is responsible for the provision of mental health services to these individuals. However, individuals living with this dual diagnosis have needs that differ significantly from those of individuals with mental illness only -- specifically, needs for enhanced engagement, rapport building, and support in processing new information -- that were difficult for MHP to meet within its usual parameters of care. In 2005, Imagine! and MHP began developing a unique, collaborative partnership to improve the delivery of mental health services to local individuals with this dual diagnosis by enhancing communication and coordination among the client, his or her psychiatrist, mental health therapist, nurse, case manager, family members, and other significant sources of support. In 2006, Imagine!'s Behavioral Health Services (IBHS) division hired three clinical professionals with the necessary specialized skill set and launched IBHS Mental Health Supports. Through this program, clients receive routine care through Imagine!, and crisis care (e.g., hospitalizations or after-hours intervention), if necessary, through MHP. The two organizations engage in ongoing dialogue to ensure that the services are integrated to provide current best-practice supports to this group of clients.

The collaboration between Imagine! and MHP is the only one of its kind in Colorado and exemplifies innovative, "out of the box" thinking. Typically, services for these two populations are funded and delivered through highly segregated systems, but this collaboration integrates the dollars from both Medicaid and local sources and the services provided by both Imagine! and MHP and marshals additional community supports -- including family members and professional caregivers such as nurses and day habilitation program staff -- to provide comprehensive mental health services based on an understanding of the whole person.

Thanks to IBHS Mental Health Supports, more than 200 local individuals with this dual diagnosis currently receive expert mental health therapy without delay from a licensed professional with more than 15 years experience working with individuals with developmental disabilities. They receive timely psychiatric assessment and intervention from physicians with more than 25 years of experience and expertise in treating individuals with developmental disabilities, acquired brain injury/traumatic brain injury, and dementia. Each of these vulnerable members of the community benefits from enhanced communication between his or her psychiatrist, mental health therapist, and professional caregivers.

Imagine!'s analysis of medication data since the program began shows that each year, the number of clients whose prescription medications decreased or were discontinued exceeded (by 2.4 - 15.8%) those whose medications increased. In addition, many clients were transitioned to newer medications with fewer side effects. Further, hospital admissions have decreased by 67% since the program began, and the overall cost for inpatient hospitalization for this population within the service area has been cut in half. These trends are significant for three reasons. First, they indicate that clients have achieved greater stability as a result of the program and have required less pharmacological intervention. Second, they show that public resources are being managed more judiciously and effectively since the program began. Third, they reflect established best practices and progress toward collective goals in the field of mental health services.

Imagine! and MHP are committed to continuing and strengthening this highly successful partnership. Both organizations are dedicated to enhancing the collaboration between professional and personal caregivers and remaining on the cutting edge of evidence-based practices in the field of mental health supports in order to further improve outcomes. As funding for services for both individuals with mental illness and individuals with developmental disabilities decreases, the local population requiring both types of services is increasing. Optimal engagement of all available supports and optimal treatment regimes to facilitate the ongoing emotional stability of each client will be necessary if future financial resources are to be adequate to meet the growing need.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Imagine!’s Community Impact

So many generous individuals, foundations, and companies have supported Imagine! and its mission over the years.

Today, we’d like to share some information about the kind of impact Imagine! has on its community, and demonstrate why your support is so vital.

Last year, Imagine!:

• helped 327 babies and toddlers with developmental disabilities or delays make progress toward their individual developmental goals (e.g., improved communication skills, improved fine or gross motor skills, or improved social skills);

• managed foster placements for 45 children whose special needs could not be met by their birth parents;

• helped 54 school-aged children with developmental disabilities to learn vital socialization skills to help them to participate more fully in society, while affording their parents the peace of mind that comes with safe and appropriate childcare during work hours;

• provided job training, placement, coaching, and supervision for 106 adults with developmental disabilities;

• promoted the growth and safety of 306 local adults with developmental disabilities by enabling them to participate in enriching and therapeutic activities in the community;

• provided information and referrals to services to 1,279 families providing at-home care of a person with a developmental disability;

• helped parents of 55 children with autism spectrum disorders select and pay for services such as behavioral, speech, or occupational therapy;

• distributed $1,185,668.62 to caregivers of 583 individuals with developmental disabilities living at home to help pay for the services and supports that were most important to their families, such as respite care, medical or dental care, therapies, or devices to help the individual with special needs function better at school or work;

• provided comprehensive mental health services to 218 individuals with dual (mental illness/developmental disability) diagnoses;

• provided a broad range of behavioral health services to 105 individuals and educated their parents and caregivers about ways to build cooperative behavior;

• managed host home placements for 91 adults with developmental disabilities; and

• provided 24-hour comprehensive care to 57 adults with developmental disabilities, including seniors and medically fragile individuals.

Unfortunately, budget cuts and regulatory changes have made it increasingly difficult to continue to provide so many services to so many people in need. That is why 10 years ago the Imagine! Foundation was created: to support the Imagine! organization through fundraising and education. The Foundation has raised more than $4,000,000 to date, enhancing Imagine!’s ability to serve some of our most vulnerable citizens.

Thank you for your continued support!