Day Habilitation at the Independent Living Association

Nov 18, 2021

Day Habilitation is a service that provides developmentally and intellectually disabled individuals with a meaningful path to community involvement by achieving individualized life skills. The programs are available to those who are approved for services through the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).

Independent Living Association (ILA) has two Day Hab facilities, located in Staten Island and Brooklyn. Individuals who attend these programs live either in ILA Residences or at home with their families.

The Brooklyn facility occupies the ground floor of a beautiful house in a quiet residential area. It operates five days each week from 9:00am until 3:00pm. Due to COVID guidelines and regulations, only ten individuals currently participate.

Each day generally begins with the Individuals writing in their journals with assistance from staff if necessary. Various activities such as yoga, dance, bingo, art projects and music appreciation follow. Jared, an Individual who attends Day Hab, spends much of his time creating animations on his computer while fellow Individuals Christopher, Xavier, Shanen and other peers also enjoy their favorite activities. Holidays and birthdays are celebrated with a gala and a Thanksgiving brunch is currently being planned. (COVID safety guidelines will be maintained at each event).

Day Hab Without Walls

The concept of Day Hab Without Walls was formed as a way of introducing the Individuals into the community.  Community integration is achieved through recreational activities such as bowling, movies, and outings to the park. There are also vocational opportunities—you may find Individuals assisting at a neighborhood flower shop or volunteering with Meals On Wheels.

ILA Executive Director Arthur Palevsky explains,“Day Habilitation/Community Habilitation  is a relatively new service model that replaced sheltered employment, which a generation ago was the main options for day service. At a sheltered workshop, people worked in a factory setting performing repetitive piecework. As the name suggests, it was sheltered, that is; people were isolated from the work world at large.” 

Arthur points out, “ILA’s Day Habilitation Program brings people into the community every day. They see the light of day while developing their work and community living skills. No longer are they segregated.”

In addition, Individuals receive a stipend as a financial incentive, enabling them to make purchases at the local store and enhance their self-sufficiency. Individuals truly develop a community awareness while learning to be cognizant of their surroundings.

Outstanding Staff and Support

Rhonda Singleton is the Coordinator of both ILA Day Hab programs. Keicha Goulbourne is the Supervisor of the Brooklyn chapter. Rhonda, Keicha, and Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who staff this facility are very much committed to the health, safety, and well-being of the participants.

Rhonda has worked at ILA for almost thirty years. In her many years of service to ILA, Rhonda feels that a great strength of the organization has been the “promotion of internal growth of the staff.”

Keicha, in her three years with ILA, has been promoted from Direct Support Professional (DSP) to Assistant Supervisor, and is now a Supervisor. Like Rhonda, she is grateful to the Agency’s administration “for the opportunity for growth and advancement.”

Rhonda has also held many positions, and is certain that strong, hands-on leadership has been a key factor in positioning ILA as a leading service provider in the field – even during difficult times. “The challenges that the pandemic presented were unprecedented, but staff always felt supported and appreciated,” Rhonda says. PPEs were and still are always available, and suggestions were heeded. Strict protocols continue to be followed to assure the health and safety of Individuals and staff.

Looking ahead, Rhonda and Keicha hope to expand Day Hab participation in the future (state and federal guidelines permitting). “Pre-COVID, up to 20 men and women arrived by van every morning to attend the program,” Keicha recalls. “Day Hab staff are hoping to reach that number again very soon.”

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