SIKESTON -- Despite a push from the state to pair as many people living in individualized supported living as possible, the number of people in these ISLs has remained about the same over the past few years in Sikeston.
"It's pretty steady," said Kim Crites, director of the Sikeston and Poplar Bluff Regional Centers for people with developmental disabilities. In fact, workers already tried to pair people before the initiative, she said. "We try to be the most cost-effective we can be."
ISL is a program centered around people who have mental retardation development disabilities to give them access and opportunities to live and work in their community Crites said.
"We will assist folks who have been approved for the program in finding homes within the community and setting up support for them within their own home," she continued. "We will also help to set up service and things that they might need in order for them to be successful in the community."
To qualify for the services, people must be determined as developmentally disabled before the age of 21, Crites said.
In Sikeston, there are 35 ISL homes, which support 49 people. But staff at the Sikeston Regional Center doesn't do all the work alone when it comes to helping those who qualify.
There are two ISL contractors in Sikeston which get referrals and then help people set up housing and get acclimated into the community.
"If they're not already out in the community, we find an apartment, house or whatever for them to rent," said Ed Miller, director at Crossroads ISL. "We have a budget we have to stay within."
At HabCare ISL, the main push right now is pairing people with those already living on their own, rather than finding new residences.
"If they can get along with each other, that's the main thing," said Sean Ivory, director.
Although most people living in these ISLs are from the Sikeston area, Ivory said that there are more people from other areas that are starting to be referred to them, due to other centers across the state being shut down.
"They're from all over the state, pretty much," Ivory said.
"We do have a few that have transferred in from other areas, but that's more the minority than the majority," Crites confirmed. For the most part, they try to place individuals near family and friends.
In addition to setting up housing, the contractors, as well as the regional center, work to give support to the individuals for things they can't do themselves, although they are involved in the process.
"We try to have them be as individual as possible," Ivory said. "For instance, they help with meal preparation if they can't cook."
At times, roommates are also selected to help complement one another's abilities, he added.
Needs can range from intense in-home care to just transportation. "Most can access the community on their own, they just need help getting places," Crites said.
Staff at the Regional Center also works to help the individuals receive government assistance when applicable.
"We will help them sign up for food stamps or any outside assistance they would be eligible for," Crites said.
Approximately 90 percent of their clients qualify for Medicaid. "And if they qualify for Medicaid, they usually qualify for food stamps," Crites said.
Cooper pointed out, however, that the amounts of food stamps differ. "Some of those can be as small as $5 a month," he said.
Once again depending on their abilities, some individuals living in ISL have jobs. For some, that consists of regular employment, and others work at the Sheltered Workshop in Sikeston, Crites said.
"They make up a part of our group, but there are very few people in ISLs who work out here," said Harvey Cooper, executive director of the Sheltered Workshop.
Oftentimes, individuals in ISLs will come to work there and later leave. "There are times when the people that are put in ISLs just have a lot of freedom, and once they get that and don't have to go to work, they end up staying home and it just becomes more and more prevalent that they do that," Cooper said.
The workshop provides transportation to the individuals, who arrive at 8 a.m. and go home by 3 p.m. Their jobs, which can include stacking lumber, assembling pallets and assembling plywood and nailwood reels, depends on their functioning ability.
"Most of them are pretty good workers," Cooper said. "It helps supplement their income, and it also creates a function that they can have during the day."