Posted July 1, 2018
In response to the Department of Justice settlement from 2012, the Zuni Campus of Presbyterian Homes and Family Services which housed 38 individuals with developmental disabilities, decided to close its doors with the last remaining individual moving in March of 2017. The settlement agreement limited the number of individuals that could be served in one location, and required that sites exceeding the proposed ratio help their individuals transition into more community-based settings by 2020.
A number of individuals from our Zuni Campus transitioned into what are called Sponsored Homes, which is an alternative service model from the traditional group home setting. This program provides the same around-the-clock care that one would receive in a group home, but in a smaller, more intimate home environment. The Sponsor in the home provides all of the care for the individual, and receives the same extensive training required for group home staff. There can be no more than two individuals in the same home receiving care from a Sponsor, which also represents a shift from the group home model.
While the Zuni Campus provided high quality care and was a special place, the individuals who have transitioned to live with a Sponsor are flourishing. Mary, age 39, spent 14 years on our Zuni Campus. Diagnosed with Autism and a Developmental Delay, Mary tended to be more withdrawn and had difficulty with loud noises. Since moving into a Sponsored Home and receiving more 1-on-1 care, Mary’s personality has bloomed in a number of exciting ways.
Mary now lives on a farm with Sponsors Sabrina and Howard Goss. Sabrina already had a strong connection to her, having been one of the HumanKind staff members that supported Mary during her time at Zuni. Sabrina shared that there is a visible change in Mary’s confidence and countenance since the transition just over a year ago; she is making decisions for herself and interacting more independently in the community in ways she has never done before.
Ruth Savio, Mary’s mother, has shared that living on a beautiful farm with the Goss family has been a perfect fit for Mary, who in addition to her love of gumballs and Cadbury Eggs, loves horses. Ruth shared how pleased she is with Mary’s progress and noted that Mary was talking, joking, and appeared happier and more content. Mary’s doctor has also observed the change, and has been able to reduce or eliminate a number of Mary’s medications, which were primarily treating the effects of Mary’s anxiety.
As for the Zuni Campus, much of the land surrounding the central buildings is being leased to a local farmer. The US Department of Conservation and Recreation is looking to purchase the wooded area behind the main campus to preserve the nearly extinct Longleaf Pine, of which there are only about 400 left in the world. The remainder of the campus is currently for sale.