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REACH Supported Living Program

The REACH Supported Living Program is designed for individuals 18 and older who have a level of physical and mental health and the safety skills needed to live independently without 24/7 support. REACH stand for:

Residential
Education & Employment
Activities
Community
Health

All of these five components are assessed to create a customized living program that meets individuals where they are and provides the supports and skills training they need to live as independently as possible. Our goal is to provide a support network of professionals and peers, so that young adults can gradually become less dependent upon parents and caregivers and capable of managing more aspects of daily living. Parents and caregivers are our partners in this process and we know we’ve succeeded when they are able to let go and feel the sense of relief that comes with the transition from primary caregivers to simply parents and friends.

Is my child a good REACH candidate?
The REACH program is designed for individuals 18 and older who have the ability to live independently without 24/7 supports, based on health and safety skills. Besides these basic criteria, the program will only be successful if the individual has the desire to live independently and has the ability to use basic technology - cell phone, iPad - to communicate and stay in touch with staff and peers. Individuals do not need to have lived away parents and caregivers before, but should have positive experiences from summer camp or similar programs where they have spent time away from home.

Emotional and psychological well-being are also taken into consideration during the application process. If needed, individuals need to be willing to participate in mental health initiatives, such as counseling or other therapies, that will enable them to succeed in an independent living situation. Abilis has extensive experience dealing with a full spectrum of psychological needs, but will not accept an individual who abuses drugs in any way.

Finally, individuals need to work, volunteer, or be part of an educational program that involves a minimum commitment of 16 hours a week. If these opportunities do not currently exist, Abilis will work with the individual and family to identify appropriate opportunities for education and employment, since these endeavors are critical to developing life-long employability, greater financial independence, and leading a meaningful life.

What services are included in the REACH Supported Living Program?
The REACH program is highly individualized. It is tailored to the needs of each program participant based on assessments of independent living and vocational skills, behavioral and health supports, and the Individual Service Plan goals and objectives that participants, parents and caregivers, and REACH team members develop together. All plans address the strengths, challenges, and supports needed in the five essential REACH program components:

1) Residential
The REACH program supports independent living with varied levels of support. We provide support with skills including:

- Organization, personal management, and self-care
- Food and meal planning; shopping; use of kitchen tools and appliances
- Home safety, community travel, and public transportation
- Social skills for living independently and with others
- Budgeting and money management
- Home maintenance and cleaning, including basic mechanics and repairs

2) Education and Employment
Abilis will work with the individual and family to identify appropriate opportunities for education and employment or support those already in place. Supports in these areas include:
- Adult education: online and in-person classes of interest for credit or noncredit
- Research and computer skills development for personal and professional use
- Job skills sampling, training, resume writing, interview preparation, application help, and onsite job coaching
- Coworker relations and workplace safety

3) Activities
Social and recreational activities are an integral part of finding and making friends, developing varied interests and skills, and leading a fulfilling life. Abilis offers a wide range of activities from movie nights to Bingo to karaoke to birthday parties and dances (virtually, and in person when safe to do so). In addition to these activities, Abilis will help participants build upon existing interests and help them explore other opportunities for independent leisure.

4) Community
The REACH program is community-based versus campus-based because Abilis wants to maximize access to activities and events at community centers, athletic facilities, libraries, parks, theaters, and other venues for social and recreational activities. We want program participants to active members of the communities in which they live, not separate and isolated in a self-contained environment. Abilis helps participants plan and participate in community events based on interests and abilities. Additionally, Abilis offers social and networking skills groups to help individuals develop friendships and navigate dating dynamics in a safe and structured setting.

5) Health
Physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing are essential components of life and independent living. Abilis will support participants with nutrition/hydration, physical activity, and sleep goals. Our dedicated Health Services professionals are available to help with medications, medical appointments, and follow-up steps to maintain optimal health.

Where can/will my child live as a program participant?
Abilis can support individuals in the towns in which they prefer to live within Lower Fairfield County. We will help build a system of supports for individuals who are already living independently or have identified a preferred living situation. When choosing a location, we strongly recommend that the home or residential building provides access to public transportation, so that individuals can commute to jobs and participate in social and recreational opportunities as independently as possible with travel training as needed.

Abilis supports a core group of individuals who live in Greenwich and Stamford and will be overseeing a supported living arrangement in Darien beginning in September 2021. The Darien residential program will offer 12 new large studio apartments in two home buildings located in a residential area near exit 13 on I-95. Abilis will provide overnight staffing at this Darien location, as well as vehicles to transport individuals to jobs, shopping locations, and social and recreational activities. Additionally, the residential facilities include a recreation room and outdoor picnic areas. Abilis is looking to identify residents for its Darien location now, so the REACH team can introduce participants and prepare them for living together as part of a community. We anticipate strong demand for the 12 apartments and encourage interested families to contact Kim Trudden, the REACH Program Director at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 203-531-1880 x. 105.

Abilis will help you evaluate different residential options, so you can choose the living arrangement that best meets the needs of your child. For individuals who would prefer to live with one or more roommates, we can help you identify possible “fits” based on age, shared interests, level of independence, and preferred geography. Abilis can draw upon its extensive network of families and individuals Fairfield County to assist with both residential matches and social connections for both parents and their children.

Who are the senior REACH program staff members? What are their roles and qualifications?
Amy Montimurro, Chief Executive Officer, is responsible for the planning and direction of the organization’s operations and programs. She is committed to ensuring the health, safety, and quality of life for the hundreds of individuals and families that Abilis serves. Amy has a Masters of Social Work from Fordham University and has been with Abilis for over 24 years. She has extensive experience in managing teams and has led Abilis’ residential growth from 12 homes to 48 to date. During her tenure, Amy has greatly expanded the number of businesses that employ Abilis program participants and has created business opportunities for the organization that provide job training, meaningful employment, and personal growth. Amy is committed to filling unmet needs within the special needs community, which is why she launched the REACH Supported Living Program. She is committed to providing best in class services and supportive environments in which individuals can achieve their full potential.

Jennifer O’Gorman is the Director of Admissions and Clinical Services. She began her career with Abilis in the Birth to Three program in 1998, providing behavioral support to children on the Autism Spectrum. In 1990, Jenn transferred to the Abilis Day Program as a behavior therapist. Within the REACH program, she helps with admissions, behavioral assessments and support plans, and staff training to deliver individual service plans. Over the years, Jenn has worked in Competitive Employment and supported Residential Services. She holds a Master’s in Education, with a foundation in Applied Behavior Analysis from the University of Cincinnati and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Southern Connecticut State University.

Maddy Schulte is one of our Case Managers and our new Individual Life Plan Coordinator. She came to Abilis in 2019 as an intern from Fordham University, where she will be graduating in Spring 2021 with a Master’s degree in Social Work. Maddy provides counselling services for REACH participants and trains and directs staff as needed with individual plans. As part of her counselling, she hosts several Zoom classes a week where she discusses topics including building healthy relationships and self-advocacy. Maddy is also a certified Sibshop facilitator and hosts Sibshops once a month for individuals ages 10 to 14 who have a brother or a sister with special needs.

Linda Talbert, Abilis Director of Life Planning, holds a Master of Arts in Teaching from Northwestern University and is licensed in Connecticut as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Before joining the staff of Abilis in 2015, Linda taught in public and private schools and was an instructional designer in the computer software field. When her now young adult son presented with a significant developmental disability, Linda pursued additional professional coursework in educational assessment and behavioral health and ran her own practice as a non-attorney special education advocate, where she also provided legal research, writing and other paralegal services for Connecticut-based special education law firms. Within the REACH program, Linda does all incoming assessments for participants, helps set individual service plan goals, and supports staff with plan implementation. Beyond Abilis, Linda continues to serve as an educational advocate for children in foster care through a Connecticut State Department of Education’s program.

Kimberly Trudden is the Director of Case Management, the REACH Program Director, and our Individual Planning Team coordinator. She is certified in Field Instruction and Benefits Counseling and oversees graduate students from several universities who provide instruction and counseling at Abilis. Kim graduated from the University of New England with a Master of Social Work and celebrated her 10 year anniversary at Abilis in 2019. As REACH Program Director, she is the initial primary contact and oversees benefits, program agreements/contracts, schedules staff, and ensures successful program delivery. In all of her many roles, Kim strives to enhance the quality of life for all Abilis program participants.

Luis Velazquez is Senior Director of Day and Transition Services. He is responsible for the oversight and operation of all Abilis Day Services including: REACH Supported Living, 6 transition (LEAP) satellite locations, Project SEARCH internship to work supports, Onsite Day (Habilitation) and Individualized Day supports, Senior supports, and Abilis Businesses. Luis joined Abilis in 2001 and has over 30 years of experience in the field of developmental disability service provision. A graduate of Purchase College, he is also certified through Planned Parenthood as a Sexuality Educator.

Why should I choose the Abilis REACH program for my child? What makes it unique?
Abilis has served the special needs community in Fairfield County for almost 70 years. We have a proven record of success and our REACH leadership team members have extensive experience - over 20 years on average - providing services to individuals with special needs and their families. With strong community roots, Abilis has developed an extensive network of professional partnerships to support us and our clients with all aspects of independent living, including community engagement, employment, and social and recreational opportunities. Unlike other organizations that exclusively offer residential services for adults, Abilis is a life-span service provider and offers a full-range of therapeutic services, in addition to a dedicated nursing staff, to meet the physical, psychological, social, emotional, and behavioral needs of the individuals we serve.

Our REACH Supported Living Program is a community-based versus campus-based residential program. This community-based model provides geographic flexibility, greater independence, and enables individuals to spend more time in the community with a wide range of peers. We offer residential counseling to help you find the best independent living options for your child, as well as in-home supports to get to know your child and pave the way for a smooth transition. In addition to helping individuals find roommates, we help them develop a larger network of natural friendships based on shared interests and goals.

Finally, Abilis offers a wide variety of supported employment opportunities - from our Abilis Gardens and Gifts at our Greenwich headquarters to our Café at the Greenwich Library - to enable individuals to develop skills to pursue competitive employment in sectors ranging from landscaping and facility maintenance to office management and retail. Individuals can learn on our watch in a supportive environment and then transition to other positions with interview support and job coaching as needed.

Families and individual choose Abilis for our high standards of excellence, individualized programs, and ability to meet people where they are to help them develop the skills they need to achieve their goals and dreams with the maximum level of independence. At this particular moment in time, Abilis has extensive COVID protocols in place that have enabled us to deliver our services safely and effectively to hundreds of program participants. From masks to social distancing to hygiene, Abilis will ensure that your child knows how to stay safe!

Who should I contact for more information?
Your first call should be to Kimberly Trudden, the REACH Program Director. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 203-531-1880 x. 105.

What is the application process?
The first step in the process is determining program fit. Families/applicants need to complete a registration form and provide copies of current or recent Individual Service Plans (ISP) or Individual Education Plans (IEP), and neuropsychological and other evaluations that can help us understand the individual seeking support. There is a $100 application fee that includes: a background check, a benefits review, a functional living and/or vocational assessment conducted by Linda Talbert, a certified behavioral analyst, and a one-hour meeting with Kim Trudden, Jen O’Gorman, and the individual and parents or caregivers to discuss overall goals and program fit. This assessment process takes about 3-4 weeks to complete.

If the individual, parents/caregivers, and the Abilis team agree that the REACH program is a strong fit, then the next step is to design an individual service plan that addresses all five program components - residential, education/employment, activities, community, and health - as well as a transition plan and natural supports to pave the way for a smooth and gradual transition to more independent living. This second step takes a month or more and requires an upfront enrollment fee of $1,500 paid privately or through state-funded service plans.

In addition to the year-long individual service plan, which is required for all Abilis program participants, families and individuals can chose to participate in a more extensive assessment and longer-term life planning process called the Individual Life Plan (ILP) or REACH Experience (RE). The RE is designed to provide individuals and families with a road map for the future in all REACH program components. It involves a more comprehensive assessment by a larger team of licensed and certified Abilis staff members and a 12 to 20-hour time commitment collectively for the individual, parents and family members, caregivers, and other important people, such as teachers and therapists, over a 4-month time period.

The REACH Experience team works together to set near-term, mid-term, and long-term goals and identify the legal, financial, and programs requirements to accomplish these goals over time. The plan that results includes recommendations in all REACH program areas to develop the skills and resources needed to achieve longer-term life goals. The success of the RE depends upon the full participation of the people involved in the individual’s support network, including family, friends, and professionals. Abilis can provide references of families who have gone through the process to help you determine if this is a beneficial next step for you and your child. The cost of the REACH Experience is $2,500 for families enrolled in the REACH Supported Living Program and $4,500 for non-enrolled families.

What is the cost of the REACH program?
The REACH program is highly individualized. The cost is based upon the hours and types of support (behavioral, medical, etc.) a participant needs to achieve agreed upon individual service plan (ISP) goals and objectives each year. As independence increases, program costs decrease. For participants who qualify for state funding, Abilis will work within the service hours allotted and families can supplement services on a private pay basis. Both Kim Trudden and Amy Houla, a staff member with Department of Social Services certification, will ensure that participants receive the maximum level of benefits available to them from cash assistance to food stamps to heating subsidies. For any private pay services, Abilis offers contracts on a yearly or monthly basis according to preference.