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A Lifeline for Parents and their Children
by John Sanchez
Jul 01, 2015 | 28 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Being the parent of a developmentally disabled child takes a special kind of heart. For Yolanda Vitulli, that heart extends beyond the love of her own child, to every child or adult that receives service from her non-profit organization Tendercare Human Services.

Vitulli was frustrated by the lack of services for children with Autism and it prompted her to take action. The issue was deeply personal for her, as her own son Michael, now 25-years-old, was diagnosed with Autism as a toddler. “I started Tendercare in 2001, for the love of my son,” Vitulli said. “At that time, like 25 years ago, Autism wasn’t so prevalent here.”

Since the organizations foundation, it’s grown precipitously and continues to do so, as they eye an expansion in services and an expansion of their footprint into Pennsylvania. Tendercare services both adults and children with developmental disabilities. There are seniors that utilize the programs, which are offered at no cost to the recipient.

Vitulli says that the prospect applicants are screened to see if they qualify, then Medicaid covers the costs, which can alleviaate even more stress for parents. “We do now offer programs for the entire life cycle,” said Scott McCabe, president and chief operating officer of Tendercare said. The programs offered, as expertly described by Tendercare’s Tameka Duncan and Coral Villandre, touch on every aspect of life and are extremely specialized to each person receiving care. “No two individuals are going to be the same,” Villandre explained.

Community habilitation aids in training to develop life skills, including: travel training, money management and independent living skills. There’s also adult habilitation, a program aimed at making adults over the age of 21 more independent. Respite provides scheduled care to individuals with Autism, PDD and other developmental disabilities. It offers caregivers a break from daily responsibility and allows the participants to develop greater independence. Their family support program is designed to help families by providing in-home, residential habilitation services, behavior modification and parent training. “Let’s work with them and teach parents to accept and love and give their child a better tomorrow,” Vitulli said. Tendercare also provides services with an emphasis on emotional and family stability as well as educational success for youths who have been or are currently in foster care or the juvenile justice system.

Right now, with the services are where they are, the money coming from Medicaid is covering everything, according to McCabe. But they have an eye on expansion, specifically an expansion of services. “We can’t grow and we can’t expand with just [Medicaid funds],” he said. They’re looking into getting additional revenue streams to grow programming in New York City, but also expand to offer their service in Pennsylvania. To do that, they’ll need to help of individual and corporate donors and more money from other sources.

For more information on the programs that Tendercare Human Services has to offer, visit www.tendercareservices.or call (718) 526-6125. Tendercare is located at 92-21 165th St. Jamaica, NY 11433. *Sponsored Content*
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