CSS began with a simple purpose. “Parents wanted something better for their kids,” said Andy Kistler, Executive Director of Community Support Systems.
“That is at the center of why we are here,” noted Tonya Blair, Administrative Secretary.
Community Support Systems has four main areas of focus: family support, employment, rehabilitation, and residential services.
CSS offers three influential programs that correspond with family support. These programs are Child and Family Connections (CFC), All Babies Can (ABC), and Parent Training and Information Center (PTIC).
Child and Family Connections (CFC) offers infants and their families screening, evaluation, and services for children 0-3 years old. The goal of CFC is to be proactive in guiding children with developmental delays to reach their true potential. This program is also offered to families in need in Bond, Christian, Clay, Crawford, Effingham, Fayette, Jasper, Lawrence, Macoupin, Montgomery, and Richland counties.
“We are the hub and it is our job to coordinate services for a child who needs developmental services,” said Kistler. “We coordinate services with area providers to make sure the children, and their families, get what they need.”
All Babies Can (ABC) provides families with children prenatal to age three the opportunity to gain valuable parenting knowledge as well as free developmental, social-emotional, health, vision and hearing screenings every 6 months. ABC services are offered to families in Crawford, Jasper, Lawrence, and Richland Counties.
The Parent Training and Information Center (PTIC) serves nearly every county in Illinois outside the Chicagoland area and acts as a mentoring and information center for families who have a child with a delay or disability.
CSS also offers individuals with disabilities employment options. “The eventual goal is to have individuals working in the community” said Kistler. There are several options that assist individuals to work towards that goal. The first option is Developmental Training. CSS has two Developmental Training Centers in Teutopolis, one located on Harvester Street and the other on Main Street. The Harvester location teaches individuals work skills one period per day and focuses on classroom activities the rest of the day. In contrast, at the Main Street location, individuals work for the full day. At both locations, individuals get paid for the work they do. Paid work is supported through contracts with local businesses.
Another option towards community employment is their janitorial crews. “We have three janitorial crews” said Kistler. These are small groups of individuals, along with a staff person, that clean area businesses. There are two crews that work out of the Teutopolis office and one that works out of the Olney location. CSS also has two contracts with IDOT to maintain the I-57 Green Creek and I-70 Nation Trail rest areas. This is a 365 day a year contract with two shifts a day starting at 6 a.m. and ending at 10 p.m.
Everyone who receives rehabilitation services from CSS is appointed a case manager who works closely with each consumer to identify their individual needs/wants for their future. Case managers work hard to assess an individuals strengths and weaknesses in order to better improve their general skill set.
“A lot of what we do is assess the skill set of individuals,” said Kistler. “Our case managers outline assessments and make plans, goals, and objectives for participants to work towards achieving.”
This plan of action is known as ISP – Individual Service Plan – and varies for each individual. “Not everyone’s needs are the same,” said Blair. “We identify needs and implement the best-suited ISP.”
One popular rehabilitation service among school-aged children with disabilities is the opportunity to attend their annual Summer Day Camp.
“Through cooperative efforts around our area, funds are provided for individuals to attend the summer camp,” noted Kistler. “It just becomes a lot of fun because it is a good time to get together with other individuals that share the same abilities.” Activities during the camp can involve touring a local plant or facility, going to the pool, bowling, or enjoying a movie or arts and crafts days.
CSS provides residential facilities to 40 individuals in both Teutopolis and Effingham. “We also have fifteen individuals who are living independently that we check in on as needed,” said Kistler. CSS currently has one 16-bed group home that will be downsized an 8 bed home in the near future, allowing more comfort and privacy for the residents. The plan to add two more 4-bed residences to their list of homes for the eight people who would be displaced by this downsizing.
“We all have one common goal, to better this community of individuals and everyone in Teutopolis just rallies around that,” noted Kistler.
“Teutopolis has been nothing but supportive to CSS and I am glad we are here.”
Future plans for CSS will continue to focus on the importance of the surrounding communities and the mission of Community Support Systems.
“It is our hope to bring more members of the community into our operations. We cannot expect the local community to embrace integration without opening our doors to family, friends and guests.,” explained Kistler. “The push is to fully integrate our program participants in the community. I would personally like to extend an invitation to anyone who would like to know more about Community Support Systems to stop by for a visit. My door is always open.”
Today, as you walk through the front door of Weber’s Clothing and Jewelry you are reminded of a time when shopping was more about the experience rather than the sale. “We serve our customers as best we can with good one on one service,” said Tony Weber, owner of Weber’s Clothing. “Customers come to expect that when they shop in a smaller store, compared to the big box stores.”