In January, Ryther received a grant of $237,435 from the Kuni Foundation. Based in Vancouver, Washington, the Kuni Foundation harnesses the power of possibility by funding innovative cancer research and supporting programs and initiatives that enhance the lives of adults with developmental disabilities. This is the first grant ever received by Ryther from the Kuni Foundation.
This grant will fund Stepping Stones, a new program within the Transitional Youth Services program focused on serving young adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD) who are facing homelessness, specifically to help them find stable housing solutions. Stepping Stones will be an exciting way for us to meet the needs of a group that we have only served peripherally in the past.
Over the years of working with homeless youth, Ryther has recognized a pattern: young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities who become homeless have the greatest difficulty in accessing housing and other resources. They are often kicked out of shelters and housing programs for “inappropriate behavior," and frequently don’t have access to needed psychological testing or medical care to qualify them for higher levels of support resources. Additionally, housing program staff often don’t have the knowledge necessary to support these young adults successfully. As a result of all of these challenges, these youth generally remain homeless much longer than their neurotypical peers and many times end up as adults still in the homelessness system.
Our staff will focus on getting clients on a pathway to stability, which, in addition to getting them into stable housing, also includes helping clients enroll in therapy and long-term benefits, such as Medicare or SSI, that may be available to them. This program will offer an assessment of the client’s specific needs, referrals and connections to necessary services, psychological testing, case management, ongoing therapy, and more. Ryther also will work with housing staff to ensure that they know how to work with the specific challenges faced by I/DD clients. Hiring for this new program is underway and we are already serving clients.