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Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation awards $339K grant to help Falls Memorial 'Close the Gaps'

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Thu, Mar 10th 2016 01:05 pm

Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center has been awarded a three-year, $339,154 grant from The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation to support a project called "Close the Gaps."

This project, to be initiated June 1, will provide service coordination and care management to youth with intellectual disabilities, from newborns to young adults in Niagara Falls. This project will also serve the families of those with intellectual disabilities.

"We are incredibly grateful for this grant from The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation," said Sheila K. Kee, chief operating officer at Memorial Medical Center. " 'Close the Gaps' will make a huge difference in the lives of children with intellectual disabilities in Niagara Falls."

"The Tower Foundation is committed to young people with intellectual disabilities," said foundation Executive Director Tracy A. Sawicki. "So often parents are unaware of what is available for their children. 'Closing the Gap' will ensure young people with intellectual disabilities and their families are connected to much-needed program and services."

The project will close gaps in care by connecting children with ID services, gaining support for families and children, helping teens with intellectual disabilities to transition to adult services, and linking children with these disabilities to treatments before and during their preschool years.

" 'Close the Gaps' was created in direct response to a disability rate in the Niagara Falls City School District, which is 23 percent higher than the national rate of 13 percent," Kee said. "In addition, an overwhelming majority of children living in Niagara Falls are economically disadvantaged, so a need definitely exists for this project."

"In partnership with Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, and through the generosity of The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation, the district is very excited to address the lives of children who have intellectual disabilities," Niagara Falls City School District Superintendent Cynthia Bianco said.

"Our past and current partnerships with the hospital have been strong and have enriched the lives of many of our students and staff. To be able to come together in this 'Close the Gap' initiative will help to improve outcomes for students with intellectual disabilities. We are eager to begin this meaningful collaboration to benefit the community's children and their families," she added.

"Close the Gaps" will operate in connection with the Niagara County Early Intervention program, the Niagara Falls School District and several education, employment training and job placement agencies.

The project will address six major objectives:

•Provide 41.5 hours of formal classroom training to both project team members and Health Home care managers supplying services to children with intellectual disabilities and their families.

•Increase early intervention enrollment for children age 2 and younger from 216 to 311 by the end of the third year.

•Boost pre-K enrollment in the Niagara Falls City School District from 430 to 480.

•Connect 75 percent of infants who were born at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center to early intervention services by the end of the three-year program.

•Reduce the high school dropout rate for disabled students from 54.3 percent to 42 percent.

•Enroll 80 percent of disabled high school students in post-secondary schools, vocational programs, employment and job training programs upon graduation.

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