The Wexford Adult Training Facility (ATF) has fewer persons served participating than before the pandemic shutdowns, but the smaller number has made it easier for them to get out and enjoy community life.
“We’ve been doing a very good job getting people out in the community,” says Jarret Criss, program specialist. “Every single day since we’ve been back here, there’s been an outing.”
The former Ross ATF served about 20 individuals before the move to the Wexford facility. While there were some outings, many pre-pandemic activities took place on site.
Since the closure of Ross and return to Wexford in mid-March, the Wexford site activities are now more personalized. Instead of attending five days a week, some individuals attend the program on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule, or only on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“We can give more individualized attention,” Criss says. “There are multiple opportunities to go out and do things.”
Because some activities are weather contingent, most of the planned outings are inside.
“Going to the park is nice, but you can’t go to the park all the time,” Criss says.
Fortunately, individuals served by the program have Carnegie Museum and Carnegie Science Center passes, so those are favorite destinations. They also enjoy going to Ross Park Mall and bowling.
Participants have been volunteering at Repurposed, a thrift store on McKnight Road that benefits Living in Liberty, an organization that facilitates the restoration of dignity and freedom to women and children who are victims of human trafficking. Those new skills could translate into employment for some of the persons served, Criss points out.
“I think the volunteer opportunities are fantastic,” he says. “We are an important part of the community.”
While money can be a factor for some activities, he points out that everyone in the program has their own spending money and that budgeting is an important skill for them to learn.
The Pennsylvania Community Participation Supports (CPS) program, through the Department of Human Services and its Office of Developmental Program, requires individuals to spend 25% of the time in the community during the period when they are receiving services.
Some of the Wexford ATF participants spend 60% of their program time in the community, while others go out only 7% of the time. Individuals have the choice of whether or not to participate in any given activity, Criss explains.
“The State has wanted changes to day programs for a while,” Michelle Harper, site supervisor says. “Community integration is a huge part of the day program now.
“I can see the program growing to include more persons served with continued community integrations, I am lucky to have the staff that I have who are willing to work hard to make this program a success.”