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Day Support Programs: What are they?

Day support programs are set up to meet the specific needs of the attendees. Attendance in a day support program is determined by the person’s primary diagnosis. For example, if the day support program is set up to provide services to people with intellectual disabilities, then the person interested in attending must have a primary diagnosis of an intellectual disability. If the day support program is set up to provide support to people with behavioral health disabilities, then they must have a primary diagnosis that falls within that category such as depression, schizophrenia, or other behavioral health disabilities.

Day support programs provide individualized services to the attendees based on their individualized needs. This is done by meeting with the attendee and their service team. The service team includes the day support staff, the case coordinator, and any other person that the attendee invites to help plan their services. The plans are person centered and are directed by the person who is receiving the supports. Each plan is good for one year and during that year there are specific desired outcomes that are worked towards within the day support program. These desired outcomes, or short-term goals, can include learning how to cook simple meals, finding a job, or improving social skills.

Not every day support program is exactly the same. How a day support program is managed depends on the needs of the population it serves as well as the community where it is based. Each community within the state of Virginia has a community service board. There are currently 40 community services boards in the state of Virginia. Some community service boards, also known as CSBs, provide services to a group of counties, while others only provide service to one. The Rappahannock-Rapidan Community Service Board and Area Agency on Aging provides services to five local counties; Madison, Orange, Culpeper, Fauquier, and Rappahannock. The area it serves is so large that there are two day support programs that serve people with intellectual disabilities and one day program that provides service to people with behavioral health disabilities. Each of these programs has a program manager and day support staff that provides supports to the attendees.

There is much to do at a day support program. A person who is interested in learning work skills may become involved in prevocational activities or in a supported employment work opportunity. Another person may enjoy doing arts and crafts or painting so they may join in an art class that takes place at the program. Other activities or learning opportunities that may be offered at a day support program include cooking classes, empowerment groups, money skills workshops, or computer skills workshops.

There are specific steps that every person who is interested in receiving day support services must take. First, if they are not already working with a case coordinator with their local CSB, they need to contact their CSB for an intake meeting. Once they are connected with a case coordinator, they can begin exploring the day support programs and services available to them. Then, after they have chosen the day support program that they wish to attend, an intake meeting is scheduled for the program and an initial service plan is developed. Attendance to the program usually begins within two weeks of the program intake meeting. All in all, the process can take up to 6 weeks depending on the need of the individual.

*For more information on how to attend a day support program in you region, contact you local community service board.

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