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Chapel Haven Teaches Independent Living to Those with Developmental and Social Disabilities

By Elisha Neubauer

Chapel Haven has one major belief: Never underestimate the power of determined parents. This was the concept on which Chapel Haven was founded on, and continues to be a big part of their mission even today.

"Chapel Haven is an award-winning transitional program and private special education school for adults with developmental and social disabilities," says Catherine Sullivan-DeCarlo, Admissions and Marketing for Chapel Haven. "Our mission is to empower people to live independent and self-determined lives." Since opening, Chapel Haven has grown to accommodate more than 250 adults. It operates with three distinctive programs: REACH, Asperger's Syndrome Adult Transition (ASAT), and Chapel Haven West (Tucson, AZ) and continues to grow each and every day.

The organization puts a strong belief on the fact that the enhancement of the individual benefits the community as a whole. "We pride ourselves on providing individualized services," states Sullivan-DeCarlo. "We recognize that our adults have differing needs. Keeping the end goal of independence in mind, we strive to meet each student's needs to insure that they are progressing toward a happy and productive life."

How do they accomplish this feat? Each adult lives apartment-style in an intensive 24-month program on the Chapel Haven campus. The organization helps these students learn to manage life skills, including meal preparation, laundry, budgeting, mobility, cooking, and apartment maintenance. "We also help them enjoy a robust weekend recreation program, training for employment and often, pursuing college studies," Sullivan-DeCarlo explains. "Upon graduation, they may choose to continue living in the area and receive continued supports from Chapel Haven."

Chapel Haven now encompasses two campuses, one in New Haven, Connecticut and a satellite campus in Tucson, Arizona called Chapel Haven West. "A unique feature of Chapel Haven's programs is the ability of adults 18 and older to enroll in an intensive, residential experience, graduate and move into ongoing adult life in the Chapel Haven community," states their website.

A pioneer in the industry, Chapel Haven's concept has been copied several times over since its founding in 1972. One of their standout features is their staff- all highly credentialed, with many years of experience in their respective field and advanced degrees. "Each of our program areas (Education, Employment, Life Skills, Supported Living, Recreation, Bridge and Community Life) is led by a supervisor and fully staffed with specialists trained to meet the needs of the individuals we serve," explains their website. "Many of our staff, including Supported Living Coordinators and the Residential Coordinating Certified Teachers and Life Skills Instructors, work individually with clients."

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About The Author

Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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