Special Kids Special Families was founded in 1998 to serve families who are caring for youth with disabilities. Founded by two mothers having a loved one with a disability; the organization sought to bridge the gap for services to assist these families. Some parents were especially vulnerable to having their children placed in foster care. Those families include single parent households and parents whose children were adolescent and young adults with severe needs and the families that have limited outside supports. Our approach to serving these families takes on a family preservation model to strengthen and support the entire family unit.
The first developed and founding program is Zach's Place Center. This facility, located in the Colorado Springs area, opened its doors in 1999 and is designed to meet the needs of families providing respite and day care, before & after school, weekend and overnight care for youth ages 2-18 with disabilities. The center gears the care around the needs of the child and family with a plan for individual goals. The program also offers advocacy, mentoring, life skills training, and social group activities. Referrals are received from private and public agencies, along with individual requests. The program relocated in 2015 to a 5000 sq. ft. remodeled facility and renamed Zach's Place at the Laurie Hillyard Family Center in honor of a large donation to the Zach's Place Capital Campaign..
In December 2000, El Paso County Department of Human Services requested that SKSF write a proposal and program to become a Child Placement Agency (CPA). The county desired to have specialized foster care services for youth with disabilities, including foster and adoptive families. In October 2001, the organization received its license as a CPA. This program provides for more extensive family preservation services, recruitment and training of families to provide out of home care for special needs children. Our specialized foster care program, the Benchmarks Program, is a transitional program for older adolescents and adults with disabilities in the foster care system which assists individuals transition into adulthood. In 2018, with the growth of the Child Placement Agency, we have moved this program to a larger more accommodating facility.
Adult Services day program provides community and center based services to adults ages 18 & older, with developmental disabilities and/or multiple disabling conditions. Our community program encourages individuals to expand their knowledge and experiences out in the Colorado Springs community while maintaining the important connections of family and friends. Joey's Place, our center based adult program, is designed the provide enrichment & recreational activities. Lessons are set up according to the needs and skill levels of the participating individual. Lessons are designed to assist in learning life skills, pre-vocational skills, and hobbies. In 2022, the Adult Program has developed the Building Connections program which encourages socialization, communication and the development of friendships. This program is themed and turns client ideas into a curriculum. In addition, the Therapeutic Garden Program was developed by a Horticultural Specialist teaching garden skills in a therapeutic environment.
Additional resources and programs include: nursing services, adult residential care, home and community based respite, crisis respite, behavioral health services and homecare services. We also provide transportation services that are available to provide accessibility to individuals that lack service in the neighborhood to access our programs.
We are happy to announce that in 2019, we have been approved to offer Behavioral Health Services through the RAE (Regional Accountable Entities) - a 14 month work and effort. We are setting up policies and procedures for new behavioral health clinicians. We are working to also provide crisis respite services. We are excited about this new program and offering it to those in need of services such as diagnostic clinical evaluation, individual therapy, family therapy, group therapy, psychoeducational group, case management, mental health screening, home based intervention services and co-occurring treatment (mental health/substance use). We'll offer all services in Spanish.
In addition, SKSF has been approved to offer Homecare Services to children and adults on the SLS waiver to assist with activities of daily living in their home. SKSF is now able to offer Personal Care, Homemaker and Respite Services.