POINT program

Independent Living in White Plains: The POINT program

Every month our staff hears presentations from outside organizations so that we can keep up with the ever-changing world of special needs service provision and serve our clients better. There are so many programs and resources out there, and while they may not always be directly related to our everyday legal practice in special education, it is helpful for us to take the broad picture.

Last month, we met the founders of an incredible program called POINT (Pursuing Our INdependence Together) in White Plains. We were so impressed with what this determined group of parents has created for their children’s futures, and we wanted to spread the word to our clients who might be interested—particularly those with developmentally disabled children in their teens.

POINT was founded by families who felt that there was a pressing need to create a supportive community for young adults with developmental disabilities who want to live independently. They began the program in 2008 with 14 units in an apartment building in White Plains, and have since grown to 50+ young men and women in their 20s and 30s who live in over 10 locations in White Plains. They carefully selected White Plains for this community project because it is an urban setting with lots of opportunities for participants and has public transit, but isn’t too overwhelming.

Partnering with Westchester Jewish Community Services and JCCA, POINT provides service coordination and benefits management, cultural and social activities, exercise and sports, 24-hour emergency supports, social and independent living skills trainings, and regular staff check-ins. POINT participants all work (or seek work), volunteer, and/or attend school—and over half of the participants have paid employment.

Families are intimately involved and participate in regular meetings, picnics and other social events, collaborations on new enrichment opportunities, and serve on committees that work to further grow this flowering community.

When your child graduates from high school or turns 21 years old, and no longer has a school-funded day program, it can feel like the rug has been pulled out from under you. We hear this time and again from our clients: graduation is bittersweet. The message we took away from the amazing parents who founded POINT is that the teenage years are critical for maximizing independence readiness and that parents with like-peers need to stick together and think collaboratively. There is more power for change in numbers and community.

If you are interested in learning more about POINT, you can email point@wjcs.com.