ACI recognizes the value of family in their clients’ lives and encourages families to be involved in the development of Individual Program Plans (IPPs), medical care and integration of the client into the community. Each student is welcomed and treated like family. At every level from the Executive Director down to the cook, the staff knows the name, personality and specific needs of each client. ACI bosts a high staff-to-client ratio that exceeds state minimum standards. This allows for a greater level of care to be given. The staff at ACI are truly committed to the people we serve with some working at ACI for more than 30 years.
At the core of the Arkansas Center for Independence is assistance with developing fundamental life skills. Everyone deserves to attain a level of independence. ACI teaches clients to count money, how to take their medicine, what to do in an emergency and even simple safety ideas like never opening your door to a stranger. Each client is given the opportunity to identify the skills they would like to develop and is then able to spend at least 2 hours a week learning these skills one-on-one with an instructor. When not working one-on-one, they are learning in a group environment.
In addition to life skills, ACI also provides life experiences for clients. As often as possible, clients are taken into the community for integrated learning experiences such as shopping for office supplies, picking up a few groceries for lunch and cashing their checks at the local bank. At least once a quarter, clients are able to take out-of-town field trips. Fishing, bowling, movies and even corn mazes and petting zoos are on the agenda. Monthly library trips are also scheduled.
Clients that indicate they are interested in working are evaluated on a number of criteria such as current skills, interests and needed skills. ACI will then attempt to develop missing skills and match the client with an appropriate job. These jobs could range from integrated community employment to sheltered work in the Center’s local second-hand shop, More Old Treasures, or in the paper shredding program at the day facility.
The Arkansas Center of Independence recognizes that when it comes to housing, one solution doesn’t fit all. We want the individuals we serve to have choices and pick the solution that best fits his or her needs. ACI provides several unique options for housing. While many facilities are pushing clients into single apartment living arrangements, ACI sees the value in community-integrated shared living provided through small group homes. These homes are normal residential houses scattered throughout neighborhoods all over town and support up to a maximum of 4 clients. Some of these houses are semi-independent which means that the individuals living in these homes have part-time staff that are on-site for a few hours in the evenings and on weekends. Other homes are staffed full-time for those needing more assistance and security in their daily living routine. We also recognize that some clients may want to live on their own in an apartment and will work with those individuals to find appropriate housing and provide whatever support the individual and family deems appropriate. For those that want to stay at home, we can also provide in-home support should the individual qualify.
No matter what housing option the client chooses, the staff members encourage the residents to be a part of the community. Residents are encouraged to attend church and other community activities and form relationships outside the Center. Transportation to attend outside events is provided by the Center at no cost to the client.