Our mission is to promote, strengthen, and support individuals with disabilities and their families. 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 2-21 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. We also provide transportation services that are available to provide accessibility to individuals that lack service in the neighborhood to access our programs.
"Zach's Place has been a pivotal support in my child's life. Having raised a child with significant special needs in a variety of states (Oregon, Arizona, and now Colorado), I can testify to the quality of care my son receives with Special Kids Special Families. The consistency of times, staff and outings have allowed my child to grow in both his social and life skills. The respect that my son and I have received from all members of Zach's Place is always appreciated. As a person who works in the world of special education, I continually have the opportunity to refer other families to the services provided by Zach's Place. I am proud to say that I have helped multiple families access the resources provided by the quality respite care services of Zach's Place and Special Kids Special Families. Thank you for participating in this wonderful event and supporting those members of our community who need the greatest support." Julene Powell Zizza, Mother of Gianfranco
"To all at Zach's Place...I want to thank you for the support you have provided our family during such a difficult time. We appreciate your working with us and not raising an eyebrow when Mikhail goofs up, and the love you provide him. Redirecting him as often as needed with extreme patience...You have always found a way, and gone beyond the call of duty for us. I don't know what I would do without your help, and thank you from the bottom of my heart...your services are invaluable to me." Sherree L. Wilder
"I cannot begin to describe just how much Zach's Place means to me and my family...they have provided top quality respite care for my daughter since day one. The staff is always pleasant and never without a smile...they genuinely care about her. They are always planning activities with the interests and needs of each individual child in mind and do their best to accommodate the respite needs of each family...thank you for making my daughter feel loved and important and for giving me the help I need to be the best mother I can be." Rebecca Freeland
"Zach's Place is my saving grace. My son has been attending Zach's place for about 10 years now. If it weren't for the wonderful people there and their compassion and love for our special children, I would not have been able to work or keep any kind of job...they've seen my son grow up and mature and develop into a wonderful young man, and a lot of that credit and praise goes to the staff. I would be utterly lost without Zach's Place and so would my son." Pam Jones