“Our mission is in our name … at Ability Beyond, we discover, build and celebrate the ability in all people.”
Ability Beyond is a health and human services provider and 501(c) 3 organization headquartered in Bethel, Conn., and Mt. Kisco, NY. The agency provides innovative and quality services for people with complex disabilities and multiple diagnoses who desire to live as part of their community. Economic and social independence, community integration and social justice for people living with complex disabilities and multiple diagnoses are the agencies focus. Our multifaceted services uphold this mission and reflect our belief that people living with differing abilities deserve dignity, independence and hope. Four values critical to Ability Beyond are individual choice, customer satisfaction, person-centered planning and economic empowerment.
Ability Beyond serves more than 2,500 people that reside in Fairfield, Litchfield, New Haven and Hartford counties in Connecticut and Putnam, Dutchess, Rockland and Westchester counties in New York. The majority of the people served are youth and adults with moderate to significant disabilities including, but not limited to:
· Intellectual disabilities
· Neurological disabilities
· Autism Spectrum Disorders
· Acquired brain injuries
· Mental illness
· Sensory impairments
· Down syndrome and/or
· Visual and hearing impairments.
Ability Beyond "Vision for the Future” includes creating a model service delivery system that will provide a network of resources in Western Connecticut and the Hudson Valley, NY, that is effective, cost-efficient and responsive to the diverse needs of people with disabilities. During 2010 the agency provided services to 1,425 people. By the end of 2015, Ability Beyond strives to meet the needs of twice as many people.
History and Milestones
1961 Started a sheltered workshop for youth age 16 and older
1968 First group home opened
1974 Thomas Fanning became President/CEO
1976 Received the first of many 3-year accreditations from the national Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities
1977 The agency’s name changed to the Danbury Association to Advance the Handicapped and Retarded, (Datahr)
1980’s Expanded services to offer clinical supports including occupational, speech and physical therapy, on-site nursing, dietary and behavioral professionals. Began offering programs to people living with a myriad of disabilities, not just intellectual disabilities
1983 Started a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Program; the first day treatment program of its kind in CT
1987 Piloted two residential homes for people with TBI making the agency the first in the state, and among the first in the country, to serve people with TBI through a residential program
1990’s Began helping hundreds of adults to find employment
1995 Invited by the NY Dept. of Health to establish the first community-based services for people with TBI in NY
1997 Achieved the highest number of job placements for people with disabilities in CT
2001 Launched the Community Integration Project to move people from sheltered workshops into community settings
2003 Agency name changed to Ability Beyond Disability
2005 Refocused to an integrated model, downsized and re-located to Berkshire Corporate Park in Bethel
Integrated employment was secured for120 people formerly served in a sheltered workshop setting
2009 Launched Growing Possibilities – Roses for Autism; the agency’s first social business venture
2010 A new Young Adult Program called Discover..Learn..Work was piloted in Bristol, CT.
New mission statement....Our mission is in our name...at Ability Beyond we discover, build & celebrate the ability in all people!
2011 Ability Beyond opened two new residential programs – in Yonkers and Yorktown, NY.
The agency is serving 90 communities in CT and NY, with a staff of 1,000 full and part-time professionals, including 188 people living with differing abilities.
Among the most exciting accomplishments of the past year were the new programs that were developed to address emerging needs. They include:
1.With the help of a $750,000 grant from the State of CT, Roses for Autism expanded its retail and training center and is installing energy efficiencies at Pinchbeck’s Rose Farm in Guilford. Governor Dannel P. Malloy was present with remarks at the official Ribbon Cutting Ceremony in April 2012.Of the 20 or so employees working at the rose farm, approximately 40% are on the autism spectrum. Roses for Autism went national this year with a piece aired on CNN. Visit www.rosesforautism.com for more information.
2. In response to the employment needs and goals of young people on the brink of adulthood, two new Young Adult Day Programs were launched in CT and NY. Today, 23 young adults who either aged out of the school system or have graduated from high school are focusing on job readiness and developing the vocational skills needed to prepare them for future employment. The“Without Walls” program in Mt.Kisco is unique from other traditional day programs in that all activities, including job readiness, take place in the community.
3.A new residence opened in Bristol designed to meet the specific needs of four young adults living with developmental disabilities and mental illness. This marks the tenth residence to open in the Bristol area managed by Ability Beyond. The agency will open the first transitional residential home specifically structured for young adults with mental illness and trauma histories in Danbury this summer.
Over the next five years, Ability Beyond's goals include building and/or renovating residences to accommodate people as they age, creating programs targeted at youth aging out of existing services, implementing new technologies such as robust electronic consumer records toward better health outcomes, and building funds for the agency’s endowment and operations.
As government support for social services declines, private philanthropic dollars will drive our ability to pioneer innovations, share our knowledge, and serve more people, at a time in which the number of people with developmental and other disabilities is expected to rapidly increase. Over the next five years, the agency’s focus is:
“A Place to Call Home”
“Aging with Dignity”
“Training for Job Readiness”
In 1953, a group of parents dreamed that their children with disabilities would enjoy a life in which disability would not define who they were or what they did. They founded Datahr Rehabilitation Institute, now known as Ability Beyond. Ability Beyond has led efforts in community-based services in the Northeast by promoting community inclusion for an often overlooked and increasing segment of our population -- adults with disabilities.After opening our first group home in 1968, Ability Beyond became CT's largest private provider of residential services for people with disabilities. During the 1980's we began offering clinical supports including occupational, speech and physical therapy, on-site nursing, and dietary and behavioral professionals. In 1983, we launched our Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Program in CT, and in 1987 we became the first agency in CT to serve those with TBI through a residential program. In the mid-90's we started the first program providing direct services for people with brain injuries in NY. Next, we began helping hundreds of adults to find paid employment each year. In 2001, we launched our Community Integration Project, an initiative to move the people who were being served in sheltered workshops and structured programs into community settings. We have since transitioned services to being 100% community-based.
1. We will offer people choice in all services;
2. We will evolve to be successful in a changing world;
3. We will provide the highest quality in all things we do;
Ability Beyond has a presence in 90 communities in Fairfield, Litchfield, New Haven and Hartford Counties in CT and in Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Dutchess Counties in NY. The agency is headquartered in Bethel, CT and Mt. Kisco, NY. Other geographic areas in CT include Bethel, Bridgeport, Bridgewater, Bristol, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Georgetown, Greenwich, Kent, Monroe, Naugatuck, New Britain, New Canaan, New Fairfield, New Haven, New Milford, Newington, Newtown, Norwalk, Oakville, Plainville, Prospect, Redding, Ridgefield, Sherman, Southbury, Southington, Southport, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Washington, Waterbury, Watertown, Weston, Westport, Wethersfield, Willimantic, Wilton, Wolcott and Woodbury.
People living with all kinds of disabilities face unnecessary barriers to living independently, and with the right supports, can live full lives in their communities. Ability Beyond was one of the first organizations to provide community based residential services for people living with developmental disabilities in Connecticut. The agency was the first to provide community-based services for people living with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in Connecticut and New York.
We offer residential options that include:
Short Term Success of the Program Includes:
Long Term Success of the Program Includes:
We utilize several methods to ensure program effectiveness and in doing so have identified best practice modalities. Ability Beyond Disability has received numerous, consecutive 3-year accreditations from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitative Facilities (CARF) with the highest accolades. The CARF accreditation process requires comprehensive review of our services and provides a framework by which we base many of our outcome indicators. The Department of Developmental Services also conducts periodic Quality Service Reviews focusing on the quality of services each individual receives. This is a thorough evaluation which includes consumer and staff interviews, apartment inspections and consumer record reviews. Internally, Ability Beyond Disability additionally conducts annual consumer satisfaction surveys and other reviews as other methods of monitoring quality assurance.
The agency took over a former state run group home in Danbury and opened two new homes in Yonkers and Yorktown, NY for people with intellectual disabilities. Our cost to provide residential services is 40-90% less than comparable services provided in the public sector.
Following is a letter from a program participant:
My name is Lee Ann. I’ve been a consumer of Ability Beyond Disability for 2 ½ years.
I suffer from a Traumatic Brain Injury and mental illness. I was living in a State hospital for 3 years; I hated life and myself. I was discharged in 2008, and that’s when I came here.
I’ve made a 180 degree turnaround. It’s easier to be happy instead of sad. I enjoy all of the staff here at my home. If I need or want something, they’ll try and get it for me. There’s always someone to talk to if I need. Since I’ve been here I have stopped smoking, lost 54 pounds and volunteer regularly.
Thanks Ability Beyond Disability for giving me another reason to put life first.
The menu of Day Program options include engaging social and recreational activities, volunteer opportunities, companionship, health monitoring, gentle exercise, a wheelchair repair clinic, along with personal care in a caring environment. The staff members provide support yet encourage the participants to be the leaders of the program. Through community-based opportunities, our participants learn the importance of developing social skills and becoming active members of their local community.
Programs also serve an educational function, sponsoring support groups, workshops and talks on self-care and advocacy at the local and state level. Individual care plans are developed for each individual. Services are individualized to meet each participant’s needs, family-focused to meet each family member's concerns, outcome-oriented with a goal of enhanced independence, and use public support in a cost effective manner.
Our Day Programs provide parents and other caregiver’s services that offer temporary relief, improve family stability, and reduce the risk of abuse or neglect. For older individuals with a disability, services such as our Day Programs can assist in building skills needed for independent living. Since the most appropriate living situation for many adults with a disability is in a group home or other supported environment, our Day Programs can enable families to test this option, explore community resources and prepare themselves and their family member with a disability for this change.
Door-to-door transportation is available to and from the Day Program through the agency’s Transportation Services. Ability Beyond Disability maintains a fleet of 100 handicapped accessible vehicles, six vehicles are dedicated for this program.
The majority of people living with disabilities prefer to live in their own home or the home of a family member. In the U.S. today, 80% of care for disabled adults and the elderly is provided by family members. Our Day Program helps family caregivers maintain their balance by providing a safe, dignified place for their loved one to spend the day, and by allowing the caregiver to continue to work outside the home, attend to household duties, or take a needed break. For others that live in group residences or supported independent apartments, our Day Programs provide opportunities for socialization, education, health monitoring, recreation & community inclusion.
Our Day Programs offer care at a fraction of the cost of home care, nursing homes, institutions or assisted living alternatives. This cost effective service allows scarce tax dollars to be used for additional community based services.
Participants are engaged in community-based activities such as volunteering with Meals on Wheels; fine art classes at the New Milford Center for the Arts; concerts and shows through the Ives Center and the Ridgefield Playhouse to name a few and other seasonal activities like apple and pumpkin picking. Special Olympics have also taken a prominent role within the program setting. Our participants train for these events year round. Ability Beyond Disability is one of the largest organizers of Special Olympics in Connecticut with over 200 athletes, 20 coaches and 59 volunteers. This year, Ability Beyond Disability hosted the largest number of athletes from the greater Danbury area who participated in twelve sports: Winter – alpine skiing, cross country skiing, bowling, traditional and unified basketball; Fall – softball, tee ball, golf and bocce; Spring – soccer, tennis, track & field and aquatics.
Roses for Autism is a social business venture that enhances the lives of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders by providing a pre-vocational and employment program in the agriculture industry at Pinchbeck Rose Farm in Guilford, CT. Roses for Autism was created to address the fact that while teenagers and adults living on the Autism Spectrum hold many talents only 12% are employed. The program offers student assessments and evaluations, pre-vocational training, internships and paid employment. Through Roses for Autism participants gain personal and emotional growth, learn business etiquette and appropriate work behavior, gain feelings of greater self-esteem, are less reliant on social programs, enjoy greater independence, gain and maintain employment and learn how to manage a greenhouse and floriculture business. All revenues from floriculture sales are invested back into Roses for Autism in order to serve more participants and achieve sustainability of the venture.
A short term success of Roses for Autism is that the program is a model integrated place of employment. Currently at Pinchbeck's Rose Farm there is a team of 18 people that are employed by Roses for Autism. Of the 18 people, 7 are living on the Autism Spectrum and another person is living with a disability other than Autism. Over the past year, one student went through the vocational program and was employed at the Rose Farm. He has since returned to school yet plans to work as a seasonal employee while on school breaks. Another person who completed the training program was employed at the Rose Farm and recently secured another paid position in the community.
Ability Beyond Disability is developing a skilled workforce of individuals living with differing abilities for agricultural and other industries. We are not aware of another entity providing job training skills for people with Autism Spectrum Disorders in New Haven County that are transferrable to different industries.
The long term success of Roses for Autism is for this vocational model to be replicated in other communities in order to serve more people living with Autism and other differing abilities. Roses for Autism is an example of a business successfully training and employing people with disabilities that is moving toward becoming fully operational and self-sustaining in three years.
Plans are in place to increase flower production and revenue. Currently, Pinchbeck’s Rose Farm produces a half million blooms a year and is utilizing the smaller of two available greenhouses. A goal is to increase production over the coming year and additionally plant flowers in the second greenhouse which is the largest single-span greenhouse in the US. In doing so, production of roses will increase to nearly 1.5 million blooms a year, creating more jobs and more revenue that will be reinvested into the program.
The pre-vocational and employment component of Roses for Autism is measured by the number of people we assess, train, employ and move to other businesses. Through a person-centered planning process, each individual's goals are detailed in an Individualized Service Plan and documented when accomplished. This approach ensures that the training, supports and services best fulfill the unique needs of each participant. The monitoring process also includes feedback from participant satisfaction surveys and regular communication with retail and employment partners.
# of participants;
# of assessments conducted;
# of individuals who complete pre-vocational training;
# of individuals who complete vocational training;
# of job placements;
Average # of months for individuals to complete training;
# of retail partners; and
# of employment partners.
The business success measurement is the number of flowers that are sold through Roses for Autism and re-invested into the business.
Following is a letter from a parent of a program participant:
My son’s exposure to Roses for Autism was a life-altering experience. Due to low-self esteem, he did not think he could work in a public setting or learn the skills needed to hold a job. The staff quickly taught him that he is a valuable member of society and that he could learn skills to become a successful young man.
The staff’s dedication to our family was very encouraging and gave hope to all of us. My family has seen improvements in B’s self-esteem as evidenced by him being able to socialize appropriately with his peers, feeling confident in using the skills he learned, along with a feeling of hope that he can try anything.
My son never complained about getting up early and going to work. This was something that he felt good about. His success with the program has extended into his daily life making it optimistic for his future. I hope that more people are able to experience this valuable program.
Thomas H. Fanning joined Ability Beyond, then Data Rehabilitation Institute, in 1974, first as Executive Director, then as President and Chief Executive Officer. In 2005, under Mr. Fanning's leadership, Ability Beyond became one of the first organizations of its kind to eliminate sheltered workshops and structured day programs and provides 100% community based employment, recreational and volunteer opportunities for people with severe disabilities. With a Bachelor's degree in psychology and a Master's of Science in Rehabilitation, his primary concern has always been the people that Ability Beyond serves. He has worked tirelessly to create an organization devoted to developing creative strategies and effective services that enable people with disabilities to participate fully in their communities and live a life of independence. Mr. Fanning is active in the Connecticut Community Providers Association, and has twice served as its chairman. He is also a member of the Connecticut Association of Nonprofits, Fairfield County Non-Profit Providers, National Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, the New York Brain Injury Association, Northern Metropolitan Hospital Association, and Connecticut Hospital Association. Other affiliations include the United Way of Northern Fairfield County, Western Connecticut State University Professional Advisory Council, and the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
This profile, including the financial summaries prepared and submitted by the organization based on its own independent and/or internal audit processes and regulatory submissions, has been read by the Foundation. Financial information is inputted by Foundation staff directly from the organization’s IRS Form 990, audited financial statements or other financial documents approved by the nonprofit’s board. The Foundation has not audited the organization’s financial statements or tax filings, and makes no representations or warranties thereon. The Community Foundation is continuing to receive information submitted by the organization and may periodically update the organization’s profile to reflect the most current financial and other information available. The organization has completed the fields required by The Community Foundation and updated their profile in the last year. To see if the organization has received a competitive grant from The Community Foundation in the last five years, please go to the General Information Tab of the profile.
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