Our mission is to promote, strengthen, and support individuals with disabilities, their families & caregivers. We were able to create a mission statement for the agency once we looked through the eyes of our youth and families, our staff and even the people we have yet to meet but know we could come in contact with one day. PROMOTES: means to contribute to the progress, development and to encourage; working on behalf of the individual. STRENGTHENS: means to make strong. Our team is strong as a result of people working together. We can do much when we join to help our clients, each other and our organization. SUPPORTS: means to bear the weight of, hold in position. We are available to our youth, adults, families and to each other. We are there to hear concerns, needs and to help in problem solving. We believe being a part of the identity of our community. We live this mission statement as we work every day and we are committed to making anything possible for all people.
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.
ICAN (Integrated Community Accessibility and Networking) Program provides services to adults ages 18 & older, with developmental disabilities and/or multiple disabling conditions. ICAN encourages individuals to expand their knowledge and experience of the 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.
Additional resources and programs include: nursing services, Family Resource Care, Adult Host Home & Respite Care, home and community based respite and behavioral health 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.
"When Zia got bacterial meningitis… Juliette was still at Zach's Place and I was at the hospital. Of course I was overwhelmed at the hospital. Zia was going through every test trying to figure out what she had. The doctors saying we're not sure if she's going to make it."
The staff at Zach's Place "went above & beyond and took care of Juliette until the wee hours. Not only helped with that but staff helped get Juliette to me while I was in the hospital. They created a care package for Zia while she was in the hospital too. They made sure Juliette was taken care of and made sure she knew that not only she was going to be okay but her family was going to be okay… Without Zach's Place being so amazing and available for my family and for so many other families, I don't know what we would do because this place is a lifeline for me and so many others." Miranda Baca, Mother of Zia and Juliette
"My husband and I live in Colorado Springs by ourselves and we don't have help from grandma and grandpa… so we needed help. We went to a daycare for 6 months but they weren't equipped to handle the behaviors that Brody was having. He was biting, kicking, slapping, punching … I started get notices at home about his behavior and he was expelled for biting. Zach's Place gave us the opportunity to come in and on the first day, I knew it was the right fit for Brody. He came home so happy and was talking about his time at the center. Since he started at Zach's Place the behavior issues have went away. With their flexible hours, overnights if we needed them, and the short notices - they are willing to accommodate us as working parents. They've given us a stress free life and gave Brody the tools he needs to go out into the community to be successful and more independent. They've given us hope for our kiddo and that everything is going to be okay. Zach's Place staff is nurturing, kind and caring and everything that my child needs and I've seen nothing but fantastic improvement with my kiddo. There's so many words coming out of his mouth and I'm just so happy to hear him talk finally. I've been waiting since he was 18 months old to hear him talk…" thanks to Zach's Place. Jen Kent-Young, Mother of Brody
"You look back in situations and try to find meaning behind it - why me, why us? I was doing a lot of night shifts where I would work 12 hours at night and then come home and take care of the kids and try to be that super power Mom that I wanted to be for the boys, but there's limitations on what you can handle. The guilt kicked in as a Mom of - I'm tired and I can't do this and I need help. Who's going to take 2 of my kids that are extra work - people would be crazy to sign up for that and then the worry that they wouldn't be okay or wouldn't be safe or no one would understand. I have one child with a developmental delay and down syndrome and the other with half a brain who screams all the time." When we came across the staff at Zach's Place they "took the lead and made me feel honored that they were asking us to help with my kids. They are people who honestly are going to love my children." Karen Lee, Mother of James & Ian