The Office for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD)

Citizen Advocates’ North Star Residential Services provide extensive care to individuals with varying abilities and disabilities. Individuals referred to North Star Residential Services from the OPWDD must have been diagnosed with a disability before the age of 22. Typically, the referral process to enter care in one of our facilities begins when an individual’s Medicaid Service Coordinator makes a formal request to be placed on the waiting list for the New York State-CARES (Creating Alternatives in Residential Environments and Services) Program. From there, NYS-CARES works with families to address the needs of those currently on the list until the opportunity arises to be placed in an independent living facility. Offering residential arrangements in Independent Residential Alternatives (IRAs), Intermediate Care Facilities (IRAs), and the Supported Apartment Program, North Star’s facilities strive to provide families and their loved ones with residential arrangements that will provide around-the-clock care close to home.


Intermediate Care Facilities (ICFs)


Started in 1986, ICFs serve residents with developmental disabilities who require a higher level of support to afford them the opportunity to live their lives as independently as possible. In addition to providing a residential arrangement, ICFs teach basic life skills, communication skills, personal care skills, and social interaction through everyday life experiences, as well as through community outings that provide residents with a larger sense of community. Since their inception, ICFs have played an integral role in reducing the number of individuals with developmental disabilities placed in large-scale institutions. For some, an ICF presents a long-term residential arrangement, while for others an ICF is a temporary arrangement that provides a setting in which to learn the skills necessary to live more independently. Each ICF has its own program manager, program coordinator, cook, registered nurse, and Direct Support Professionals (DSPS). DSPS are people who work directly with the individuals, assisting them to lead a self-directed life and be a part of the community. DSPS also assist with activities of daily living and encourage attitudes and behaviors that enhance community inclusion. A DSP may provide supports to a person with a disability at home, work, school, church, and other community places and also acts as an advocate for the disabled individual by communicating their needs, self-expression and goals. Three of North Star’s four ICFs are located in Malone, with the fourth in Chateaugay, NY. During the day, the people living in the ICFs enjoy socialization and an integrated approach to the skills that they work on in their home environment through Citizen Advocates’ Day Habilitation Program. Each home provides 24 hour on call nursing services, while one of the ICFs is capable of caring for medically frail people with a round-the-clock LPN.


Individualized Residential Alternatives (IRAs)


IRAs were created in 1994 by New York State and the OPWDD (then the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities or OMRDD) as a new residential initiative for people with developmental disabilities that provided increasingly individualized programming and more varied choices for residents. Today, North Star’s IRAs work in partnership with Citizen Advocates’ Day Programs and Vocational Services to develop unique and individualized programming alongside residential arrangements that offer room and board. Located in both Malone and Saranac Lake in Franklin County, Citizen Advocates operates two different types of IRAs, including Supervised IRAs offering 24-hour staff support and supervision, as well as Supportive IRAs, or residences where residents do not require 24-hour support and supervision.


Supported Apartment Program


North Star operates three single bed Supported Apartments classified as Supported Community Residences in conjunction with the Elm Street Community Residence program. These apartments serve as a natural stepping stone to those individuals who have acquired the necessary skills needed to live in a less structured environment. From the Supervised Community residence’s 24 hour supervision, to the apartments’ 13 hours per week oversight and guidance, it can be a major change for those individuals making the move but one that is very fulfilling.

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