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Abilities First (Chief Program Officer)

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Founded in 1962, Abilities First is a $34M not-for-profit organization located in Poughkeepsie, NY works to provide people with disabilities and their families support to attain independence, self-determination, integration and acceptance by others through education, exploration and experience.

Abilities First has had a long-term commitment to providing a cohesive culture of compassion, empowerment and respect for people with a variety of disabilities through educational, vocational and habilitation services. It presently serves over 1,200 children and adults throughout the Hudson Valley region of New York State.

The programs and services provided by Abilities First are comprehensive in scope, meeting the needs of people of all ages with a wide range of disabilities. Rehabilitation, education, employment, vocational and residential support and services are provided by professional and caring staff who make it their goal to allow each individual to meet their full potential. The values-based approach incorporates, at its core, communication, dignity, excellence, independence, integrity, leadership and safety. These values are woven into the fabric of everyday life at Abilities First, and are, without question, the key to its overall success.

Abilities First Universal Pre-Kindergarten, Abilities First Preschool, and Abilities First School
Abilities First offers full-day integrated Pre-K at no charge to families. The Special Education Preschool provides a range of educational services year round to children ages 3-5 with developmental disabilities. Our School age program provides a unique, warm, accepting educational experience for students ages 5-21 with moderate to severe disabilities at sites in Cornwall, Poughkeepsie and satellite classrooms in the Red Hook School District.

Social Work and Service Coordination
By working together with our broader community, our Social Work and Service Coordination staff assists program participants in obtaining an education, engaging in available and appropriate therapies, find meaningful work and live to their fullest potential. We also provide counseling and support for families and caregivers.

Community Habilitation
Community Habilitation offers one-on-one service to children and adults with disabilities who live at home with their families or independently in the community. A variety of respite programs for caregivers are also available.

Residential Services and Housing
Residential opportunities range from supervised living settings with around the clock staffing for people who require a high level of specialized care to supportive apartment sites for individuals who are more self-sufficient, and uncertified housing options for people who are nearly independent.

Day Habilitation
Operating out of nine community neighborhood centers, our Day Habilitation program provides customized services that focus on developing social behaviors, communication skills, personal and health care competency and other daily living skills.

Employment Services
Abilities First can offer a vocational plan and a variety of work-related settings that will provide fulfillment to people with a broad range of disabilities. Through our School to Work program, our onsite supervised workshop, supported employment in the community, work enclaves, volunteer services and individual job placements, we have developed a range of support that encompasses opportunities at every level. Each has the power to build on the special abilities of our program participants and provide them with the chance to earn money or participate in a work environment that results in much greater self-confidence and overall life success.

Recovery Services
Abilities First offers one of the only Substance Use Outpatient Clinics for people with developmental challenges in New York State. The Outpatient Clinic uses the traditional 12-step model that is adjusted in order to benefit people with developmental challenges who are struggling with alcohol or other substance use.

For more information about Abilities First, please visit their website at www.abilitiesfirstny.org.