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Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

Cheryl Ann open house set

Area program for developmentally disabled turns 50

By Cheryl McKirnan
CELINA - The Cheryl Ann Board of Developmental Disabilities will host a 50th anniversary open house for the public from 4-7 p.m. Oct. 25.
Chili, snacks and drinks will be served as attendees take part in outdoor games, indoor tours and a short video reminiscing about both the 50-year-old origin of the Mercer County Cheryl Ann Coate Program and the 1967 legislation launching statewide programs for developmentally disabled children and adults.
The agency provides services for those in need from birth through adulthood.
DD board members on Monday heard an update from a representative of Help Me Grow, a state-funded program available for newborns through 3-year-olds to diagnose through home visits and early intervention the need for services of physical, occupational and/or speech therapy.
Help Me Grow serves 26 children in 21 families. The program can serve up to 30 families in an area, program director Sandy Dorsten said
"Eighty percent of home visits are requested by parents and 9 percent are referred through the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program," Dorsten said.
Early intervention referrals are 34 percent from physicians and 29 percent from parents, she added. The program is housed at the agency's site.
The state-sponsored program has begun a centralized referral service located in Cleveland to cut the $4 million cost of maintaining county referral services by half, Shawn Thieman, Cheryl Ann superintendent added
"Though the goal is to cut the dollar amount by half to not over $2 million, only about $1 million has been cut to date," Thieman said. "Although program parameters may change with political parties, the projects of various first ladies and levels of department of health red tape, we are glad to house the program within our building to facilitate the ease of communication with other program services."
In a budget update, the board learned from business manager Tonya Clark that the anticipated $67,000 to be received from Medicaid reimbursements was actually $329,000.
"This is an anomaly resulting from a 2012 settlement and timely billing practices within our program," she said, noting the irregularity will correct itself as the state catches up with its financial obligations.
Levy collections have increased by $140,000 primarily due to new construction, she said. Clark and her staff must complete a five-year financial projection prior to creating the 2018 budget.
Due to lags in the state reimbursement program, Cheryl Ann always keeps four months of funding in reserve, she said.
The Mercer ARC, which serves children and adults with developmental disabilities, owns and maintains eight community homes for clients served by Cheryl Ann, Thieman said, noting it essentially serves as a Parent and Teacher Organization for Cheryl Ann clients.
"Our program is the envy of many counties, but because it is maintained totally by volunteers and those people have been serving for many years, we are looking to create a coordinator position within our staff," he said. "This would provide communication and assistance to the volunteers.
A current full-time employee will now dedicate half of his or her time to the duties, Thieman said this morning.
"Although inclusion has created many opportunities for Cheryl Ann clients as well as other students in classroom situations, the camaraderie and social opportunities that existed between students and communication between parents when Cheryl Ann housed a school program have been weakened," Thieman added.
The coordinator will help revive communication and socialization opportunities, he said.
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