On September 1, a new administrator will take over programs for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Klamath County, following the abrupt departure of Mentor Oregon.
In June, the Mentor Network — a Massachusetts-based corporation that administers many of Klamath County’s group homes and care facilities for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities — announced they were cutting off services across the state of Oregon.
Now, weeks later, Klamath County Developmental Disabilities Services has found a new organization to take over where Mentor Oregon left off.
Advocates for Life Skills and Opportunity (ALSO), a nonprofit that started in Portland and now has an office in Bend, will be working with the Klamath County Developmental Disabilities Services, DDS director, Myles Maxey, said.
“I’m excited with the fact that they (ALSO) are looking to come in and are looking at the program as a whole, and are bringing in the same perspective that they have been very successful with in other parts of the state,” Maxey said.
Maxey said ALSO is capable of providing even more programs and resources than before, and will provide support to individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities in their own homes or family homes, in addition to administering local group facilities.
“They really focus on full inclusion of people who experience intellectual and developmental disabilities,” Maxey said. “So, their plan as they move forward is really to create a solid foundation and then look to build off that foundation so they can be a sustainable model as they continue to move forward.”
Mentor Oregon will be leaving the state by Sept. 1, at which point the transition to ALSO will be official, Maxey said.
Currently, Mentor Oregon and ALSO are working together to get leases for the group homes transferred over as part of the transition process.
The area director for ALSO, in Bend, will be coming to Klamath Falls in the next several weeks to meet with staff and to finalize any personnel modifications that need to be made in order to ensure an optimal level of care, Maxey said.
Next week, Maxey said, the state Developmental Disability Service office licensing division will be coming to Klamath Falls to do initial checks on the group homes to make sure no repairs are needed.
Maxey said he personally, along with his staff, have visited local group homes every other week for at least nine months, so he does not expect any issues to come out of state inspections.
The vast majority of the staff employed by Mentor Oregon will remain on the job once the transition is complete, Maxey said. “Obviously, the staff will have the choice whether to stay… to help with the continuity of care across the board.”
“It should be a fairly smooth process as we move forward,” he said.
Maxey added he is excited about ALSO’s perspective on care, which “will continue to enrich the lives of the individuals we support, but they are also coming in to empower the staff who support these individuals.”
“They bring the complete package.”
In addition to administering group homes, ALSO will provide employment support, in home support for those who live in their own homes, as well as supported living services.
Another service provided by ALSO includes day support activities which allows individuals to be part of the larger community.
The program includes art classes and dance classes, Maxey said.
“It allows individuals to find what they enjoy and meet that need so they are not just sitting at home all day.”
Maxey added that ALSO has the ability to grow here in Klamath County and provide even more resources than what Mentor Oregon was previously providing.