Kerste’s nickname is “Boo.”
“She would play peek-a-boo and laugh,” explains her father, Derek. “After that, we just started calling her Boo.” Her nickname dates back to elementary school but still is an accurate reflection of Kerste’s fun-to-be-around/jokester personality.
This spring, Kerste moved into her new home in LBSA’s Community Services program. To assist with the transition, Kerste visited every day for two weeks to get to know staff, her three new housemates and her new surroundings. LBSA staff used these visits to get to know Kerste and become familiar with her support needs. Kerste has sleep apnea and auto immune issues that require some very specific dietary restrictions. Staff, like Grace Neuroth-Casson, need to be a master of all trades, including managing behavioral challenges, shopping, cooking, coordinating appointments, communicating with families and guardians; all while considering each person’s own unique service and health needs and behavioral plans. Staff have been assisting Kerste develop new routines in her new living arrangement and she is benefitting from having consistency and structure in her day. Kerste still participates in LBSA’s music therapy program, she is visited by an occupational therapist weekly and she also works doing packaging work at a local nonprofit organization.
Even though she is a new resident, Kerste has had a connection to LBSA for many years. She began participating in LBSA’s music therapy program at the age of nine and over the years, Kerste has attended LBSA’s Family Support Services Saturday Fun Events. Saturday Fun Events offer structured activity time for people ages five and older with special needs. Saturday Fun Events also provide a break for parents and caregivers. Finding services and programs for children with developmental disabilities can be challenging due to a limited number of programs, and resources. Family Support Services and music therapy are a couple of examples of how LBSA tries to fill in some of the service gaps in the developmental disabilities industry.
Families with a loved one with a developmental disability understand the value of having appropriate housing and support services options. In an industry that has seen waiting lists triple between 2005 and 2016, the strain between increasing demand for services and diminishing financial resources puts many special need’s parents and caregivers wondering about worst case scenarios. Derek asks, “Is there going to be housing and an enduring entity if we die?”
Derek and Carrie have two daughters living at LBSA and they are appreciative to have found a place where each of their kids can call home. They point out that in Kerste’s house, there is over 100 years of staff experience. Not only do LBSA staff have experience, they also care deeply about the people they support. When asked what it means to know that staff like Grace are working with their daughter, Carrie responds and smiles, “It means the world to us.”