For the first time in a very long time, the staff of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services of Central Counties Services are all in one place.
For several months the group has been providing services at its new location, 1103 Mary Jane St. in Belton.
For years they had offices wherever space could be found.
Terrence Taylor, a client of Central Counties Services, comes to the Belton office on Mary Jane every Thursday and works with Kristen Zaicek, licensed behavioral analyst for IDD services.
Zaicek works in the Behavior Clinic where analysis services are offered as well as crisis services.
IDD Crisis Respite is for individuals who are at risk for or are displaying behaviors that could cause imminent danger to themselves or others.
“It’s a break and a location where they can work on therapeutic skills, like coping and anger management,” she said.”We can provide IDD respite for up to 14 days, which are usually scheduled over a number of days.”
The point of the program is to give the consumer, staff and families a break to avoid further crisis.
There are different rooms that provide the consumers a location with the stimulus that is beneficial at that time. There’s a media room, one-on-one working rooms, a sensory room and a cool down room.
“We want to help them learn to monitor their emotions,” she said.
The IDD Crisis program is meant to be a diversion from hospitalization or jail, Zaicek said. During the school year there’s after school respite.
Taylor likes the respite program; it gives him an opportunity to get away from his usual stop, where it can get loud.
“It’s more peaceful here,” he said.
Taylor is interested in genealogy and lives in Milam County where he has lots of relatives.
He likes to visit the old cemeteries that dot the landscape in Central Texas.
“I was accused of trespassing at one,” Taylor said. “The man said if he saw me there again, he’d call the sheriff. That was scary; I didn’t know I was doing anything wrong.”
IDD Services determines the eligibility of the person seeking intellectual/developmental disability services from Central Counties Services Authority.
The person must have been diagnosed with intellectual disability, autism, specific related conditions, or are a nursing facility resident eligible for specialized services.
The programs offered are state and federally funded services.
“We want people to know that this facility is a central hub for Central Counties Services,” said Andrea Erskine, director of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Central Counties Services.
The office is centrally located for Bell County residents and is as convenient as possible for people living in the other four counties served by Central County Services.
“We’re right on The HOP route for those who use the bus,” Erskine said. “That was a factor when we were looking at locations.”
The facility houses 55 staff members who work in intake, eligibility determination, IQ testing, case management and service coordination and provider services.
The building also serves as a hub for those who work out in the community with clients.
“We have crisis response services, behavior support clinic and crisis respite services all occurring here,” she said.
The space they left in the Temple facility is being put to good use, by enabling behavior health to spread out and expanding the integrated care clinic.
The folks in the intake department are charged with explaining the services and eligibility criteria, such as IQ under 70.
“They put people on waiting lists if such a list exists or link the person up with requested services,” Erskine said.
The waiting lists are not controlled by Central Counties Services. The Texas Legislature grants the funding that opens up service possibilities.
The five counties that Central Counties Services represents have more than 1,000 individuals on waiting lists.
“That’s pretty typical, statewide,” she said.
Central Counties Services IDD Services provides services to about 700 clients a month.
When the funds are not available for a particular service, Erskine said the organizations looks to partnerships in the community.
IDD Services is working with Bell County Juvenile Justice on providing training on working with individuals with autism that come into the system.
The new building also has room to offer training to different groups.
The IDD population served locally has a variety of living situations — at home, in group homes and on their own.
“Most of the clients are adults and have finished school and need to have meaningful things to do and be part of the community,” Erskine said.
A lot of parents aren’t aware of the Central Counties Services IDD services until their child has aged out of school.
“We’re trying to take some initiative and get out to the schools and let parents know we’re here,” she said. “They might not need us now, but they can at least get into our system and get on waiting lists.”
The department is refocusing efforts on employment services and is partnering with Texas Workforce and others.
“We want employers to know there are benefits to hiring an individual with IDD,” Erskine said. “They are loyal and motivated.”
Crisis response and crisis respite services are a priority.
The clinic has crisis respite services during the day to give caregivers a break. When an individual comes into the crisis respite services, the behavior support staff will work with the client, while other staff is working with the family.
The point to the programs offered is to improve the lives of the clients Central Counties Services serve.