Dear Eden Families, Guardians, and Staff:
July 1 marked the beginning of a new fiscal year at Eden – otherwise known as FY17. As we look forward to our 42nd year of leadership in autism services, let’s take a moment to reflect on the outstanding accomplishments of our students, adults, and staff – bolstered by the support of our families and community – that occurred between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016. My thanks and congratulations goes to the entire Eden family of students, adults, families/guardians, staff, board, volunteers and community members on another great year!
The Eden School
- We welcomed seven new students last summer. Five joined our Early Childhood program and two joined our High School. Our census averaged 75 students, an increase of two from the prior year. Last month we graduated five young men representing the Class of 2016 and celebrated the transition of 13 students into new classrooms. Earlier this month, we enrolled four new students in Early Childhood, one in Intermediate, and one in High School 3. This keeps our census at 75 plus one. Our fearless mascot, Edgar the Hedgehog, counts too!
- Our Transition to Employment (T2E) program continues to grow. 84% of our High School students participate in job training in the community or an in-house placement. We welcomed several new employers including Munich RE, Romeo’s Pizza, Plainsboro Preserve and 1911 Smoke House and now have 13 diverse employers. In June, former Assistant Director for Transition and Technology, Rob Kimmel, spoke at the Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE) National Conference on Eden’s use of technology to help transitioning students obtain supported employment.
- We significantly updated our Transition to Adult Services so that the journey from school to adult services is as smooth as possible. The process now begins in September of a student’s graduation year and includes a team of professionals from the school, adult services, and clinical staff as well as the graduating student’s parents, school district, and support coordination agency. We will continue to improve the program to ensure that our students are best prepared for their post-graduation placement.
- In early May, we underwent our fifth quadrennial review by the National Commission for the Accreditation of Special Education Services (NCASES), the country’s leading accreditation program for private special education services. Of the 293 standards that were applicable to us, we met or exceeded 292! Most importantly, the reviewers stated in their exit remarks that many of our programs are highly innovative and represent some of the most promising practices they have seen. We received our final accreditation letter earlier this month. Big props to our School staff and students for a job well done.
- Our ancillary school programs (Extended Day, Eden at Crossroads, Family Support Program) have undergone significant improvements under the leadership of Bridgette Connolly, Assistant Director of Educational Services, and Todd Garmer, Program Support Coordinator. The monthly Friday Night Dance Parties and Saturday Community Experiences are especially popular among our students and young adults and provide a welcomed break for their parents/families. And in spite of significant system changes to the State’s Family Supports Program, we continue to offer outstanding respite services to a number of school families.
Eden Adult Services
- Our Adult Day Program, now under the leadership of Mona Shahid Siddiqui, Director of Day and Employment Services, serves 130 participants across two settings (Old Trenton Road and Crossroads). In March, we were selected to participate in Cohort 2 of DDD’s transition to the new Medicaid-based fee-for-service funding model being rolled out for the Supports Program. Within 30 days, we enrolled the first of our 16 eligible individuals and are now having success with expanding and implementing a range of services as well as receiving timely payments for our claims. Several new activity rooms at each center, including a woodworking shop and workroom for our first micro-business (Eden Threads) were created. Each center also has updated technology rooms that allow participants to develop related skills, create resumes, and complete job applications. Look for several more enhancements to our work centers in FY17!
- Eden’s focus on Employment First continues to take shape. Almost 60% of our adult participants are engaged in community-based competitive employment. 2015 saw a +30% increase in adult participants’ earnings versus the previous year – nearly $200K. Although limited to those enrolled in the Supports Program, over 15 participants now receive dedicated Supported Employment services. The number of employers providing job opportunities continues to increase; new partners include Retro Fitness, Windsor Dermatology, Lawrenceville Presbyterian Church and Johnson &Johnson. We started providing DVR Services through the Department of Labor in FY16 and are now actively managing 10 cases. Finally, congratulations to Moe Siddiqu, Manager of Employment Services, for receiving the Supervisor of the Year award from NJ APSE.
- Our Adult Residential Program, under the leadership of Edyta Zak Burns, Director of Residential Services, was busy with the successful placement of six new residents and four transfers of participants to new Eden homes. Eden now serves 90 residents across 24 programs (14 group homes, 10 supervised apartments). Last fall, our Residential Supervisors instituted Monthly Activity Calendars to promote and encourage Eden’s commitment to community integration. We also developed new Guidelines for Accessing Health Care that will be disseminated shortly. In May, we passed DDD’s annual licensing inspection with minimal deficiencies. Finally, two our Eden residents were recognized for their outstanding achievements this past year: David W received the Supportive Housing Association’s (SHA) Supportive Housing Tenant Award and Fred H received a Star Award from the New Jersey Association of Community Providers (NJACP). Congrats David and Fred!