Usually, group homes are long-term residences, in which several developmentally disabled individuals live together for years and years.
However, a new type of group home is being developed in Midwood, which will provide short-term housing for developmentally-disabled children to allow their families to have a respite when necessary.
The home, which is proposed for 2018 Avenue J, is a project of HASC Center, working in cooperation with the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, and it has the backing of Community Board 14, which voted overwhelmingly to support the home at its December meeting, held at Public School 249, Caton Avenue and Marlborough Road.
The concept had previously been introduced to board members during a public hearing held at the board office, 810 East 16th Street.
Sarky Metzger, the director of program development for HASC, explained that the purpose of the facility would be to provide a break for the “Many families in dire need of respite,” for a short period of time. “They need a place where their children will be safe and well cared-for,” she stressed.
“We are very excited about this,” Metzger added. “It’s a very novel type of home, and we are confident we will be able to run the house in an efficient, effective and safe manner.”
“So, you will be establishing a precedent here,” noted Alvin Berk, the board’s chairperson, who called the endeavor both “innovative and very humane.”
As many as eight children would be accommodated at one time, Metzger explained. These would include boys up to seven or eight years of age, and girls up to 19 or 20 years old. “We want the ability to have both genders in the home at the same time,” she stressed, “so we thought it best to keep the age of boys below Bar Mitzvah age, so it doesn’t become problematic.”
To accommodate them, the home will be subject to certain interior modification, such as widening doorways so wheelchairs can fit through, as well as the addition of a ramp on the exterior.
The staffing of the home would vary depending on how many children are in residence at any given time, but “There will always be an appropriate amount of staff,” Metzger assured the group, noting that the organization has “a pool of people during the week as well as on weekends” who can be called on.
The project is being paid for through a combination of public and private funding, said Samuel Kahn, HASC’s executive director.
“A project like this is very, very costly,” he emphasized. “Every child we are bringing needs his own counselor, his own staff . You don’t know what you are getting into. They can have behavioral issues, as well as health issues. So it, will be at least one on one, plus you need a nurse on duty every time there are children in the house, and other staff as well.”