Program Development: An Overview

Greystone Programs’ Director of Program Development, Steve Diener, discusses the impact of COVID-19 on current development efforts as well as his goals for the future of the department.

As Director of Program Development, can you talk about what’s currently happening?
Right now, I’m most excited about the soon-to-open Grant’s Path IRA, which has been in the works for over 3 years. We just received final approval from the state so renovations can begin and we hope to see it open this spring. It will be a home for six young adults from our area who have or will soon graduate from residential school. Teens who attend residential school rarely return home after graduation and every year, new homes need to be developed for them. Greystone has always participated in this effort either through new development or by having people move into existing homes with vacancies. Either way, this is a monumental event for them and their families who have been great to work with since they first chose us to develop and deliver these services.

 

We are also beginning the process of looking at a new group of students who will graduate in the years 2022, 23 and 25. This entails reviewing dozens of packets and eventually screening people “in person” to determine who we could best support in a residential setting. We will screen with an eye toward forming a group of at least 4 people who have similar interests, abilities and preferences. In the end though, it will be their decision to make with the help of their families as to which agency to go with as they transition into adult services. Our goal is to connect with and be chosen by enough people to develop at least one 6-person house in Dutchess or Ulster County and one similar sized home in Orange County. At the same time, as vacancies occur in our existing homes, graduating students could be considered and be offered these opportunities as well. We may even look to move people we currently serve into more independent settings like a supportive apartment if they are ready and interested.

 

How has COVID impacted development efforts?
Without a doubt, the pandemic has been the most difficult challenge the field has seen for as long as I’ve been a part of it. Staff responsible for program operations have really been impacted and they’ve done incredible work to ensure that services continue. People at all levels have been extremely preoccupied and rightly so but as a result, the state is taking a wait-and-see position in response to most new programs and services. The biggest impact for development though is the inability for us to screen people in person. Likewise, families are unable to visit any of our programs as they did in the past and nothing was more effective than having them see our homes in action and meeting Greystone staff. While we’ve gotten adept at video conferencing for meetings and interviewing candidates, nothing takes the place of an in-person meeting. Parents almost always insist on visiting a home before making their decision concerning their loved one. Virtual tours have been utilized with success and in the future, we hope to have pre-recorded videos available to send to people to highlight our programs and services.

 

Aside from what’s being worked on now, what projects would you like to pursue in the future?
I think the best thing we can do as a service system is to offer people options. The greater array of services and supports you can offer the better, because everyone is unique with their own set of preferences and needs. Prior to the pandemic, we were very close to gaining approval for a new site-based Day Habilitiation program in Dutchess County. It was going to be on the smaller side, which is a plus and a complement to our very successful “without- walls” program. Under the right circumstances, I’d also like to see Greystone open a few supportive apartments especially if it could be for someone currently in a 24-hour setting. This could be a wonderful opportunity for someone, and moving into a more independent life would be a special victory for all involved.

 

For more information about Program Development, please contact:
Steven Diener, Director Program Development
452-5772 Ext. 116
sdiener@greystoneprograms.org

 

About Greystone Programs
Celebrating 42 years of excellence, Greystone Programs is dedicated to supporting children, adults and families living with autism and other developmental disabilities by enriching lives one person at a time. Established in 1979 by Marc W. Kelley, Greystone offered the first privately run residence in New York State for people living with autism. Today, Greystone offers exceptional services and life-enriching opportunities for more than 600 children, adults and families living with autism and developmental disabilities in five Hudson Valley counties. To learn more, visit https://greystoneprograms.org/ or follow the organization on social media.