A $1 million infusion from the state is helping Easterseals Southern California launch the development of more services for children with autism who develop serious behaviors that can isolate them in school and in the community.
The money was secured with the help of Assemblyman Steven Choi and will launch a fundraising campaign by the Irvine-headquartered Easterseals to raise an additional $6-7million to open a new installation in Orange County and significantly expand its Serious Behavior Services Program.
Currently, the program can help about 18 or so children, working intensively with them for several months at a time to address serious behaviors, such as “repeated and sudden episodes of impulsive, aggressive, violent behavior or verbal outbursts of anger” which can develop and leads to the isolation of children and their families.
Working with children in a more neutral environment such as the planned new state-of-the-art centre, with all the equipment, safety measures and furniture, can help develop the tools and strategies to help children be more independent or perhaps be back to a classroom, said Dr. Paula Pompa-Craven, clinical director for Easterseals.
Easterseals is Southern California’s largest provider of autism services, helping more than 13,000 children and their families annually.
In 2020, when he absorbed the outpatient program from the Center for Behavioral Sciences, he began to work more with children exhibiting the most severe behaviors.
Pompa-Craven said Easterseals discovered, working with the most knowledgeable staff in the CBS program, how many “individuals fall through the cracks due to the severity of their behaviors,” and there were no not really any other center-based program available like this. in California.
“Families had to go out of state to get these intensive behavioral services,” she said, adding that Easterseals wants to expand its offerings with more crisis intervention, research, training for professionals and resources for families.
With a new building, Pompa-Craven said Easterseals could start helping more than 100 children at a time, likely creating as many jobs.
And once fundraising is successful for a new building, she said a program would be self-sustaining because it would be covered by most health insurance.
“It’s such a necessary service,” Pompa-Craven said. “The challenge is the start.”
California Daily Newspapers