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Dutchess County Launches New "ThinkDIFFERENTLY" Website
Resource connects families with those with special needs to services

Published: 2/27/2018

For More Information Contact:

Colleen Pillus

Poughkeepsie … Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro announced the launch of the County’s new “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” website,, which offers simple navigation through the comprehensive array of local services available to residents with special needs and their families. The new site connects families to resources, information and community events to enhance the lives of individuals of every ability.

County Executive Molinaro said, “Our new ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ website will aid residents with special needs and their families connect to services, resources and others. Whether that means finding educational opportunities, connecting to services and programs to improve their quality of life, or discovering events that connect them to their community, this site will unlock access and open opportunities. Dutchess County is proud to ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ about our neighbors of all abilities, and this new site is our latest step in helping every resident reach their potential.”

Established in 2015, Dutchess County’s “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” initiative encourages individuals, organizations, businesses and communities to foster a more welcoming and supportive for those living with special needs. Since its inception, more than 70 communities throughout New York State have adopted “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” resolutions, including the majority of those in Dutchess County.

The website is a tool to empower families and individuals with special needs, as well as provide professionals new to the field or Dutchess County a starting point to learn about resources and grow in their role of supporting families.

County Executive Molinaro said, “Navigating the system of service providers can often be a daunting task for families. Our website offers simple navigation to more easily find the services and programs that best fit the specific needs of individuals and families, as well as quick access to those who can further help.”

Among the features of the new website, users can:

  • find local service providers or programs, based on their specific age, diagnosis, and location;
  • learn about child development milestones and how to plan for their future and continuity of supports, based on their age and their physical and mental progress;
  • easily connect to local, state and national resources to find the answers for numerous questions families of those with special needs might have;
  • learn how their community can “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” – be it taking part in an inclusive event, partnering with local organizations or funding accessible infrastructure projects.


In addition, the “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” website includes calendars to help families locate events that provide opportunities for education, advocacy and community engagement – both inclusive events organized by Dutchess County Government and those hosted by local service providers and community groups – as well as examples of how local individuals, organizations and businesses have chosen to “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” to advocate for the neighbors of every ability.

Toni-Marie Ciarfella, PhD, Dutchess County’s Deputy Commissioner for Special Needs, said, “Dutchess County Government’s new ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ website is the first of its kind in New York, the culmination of months of collaboration and diligent work to provide local residents a comprehensive directory of services and programs in our community. The site is the latest example of County Executive Molinaro’s vision – serving every resident of every ability, ensuring each individual finds his or her purpose.”

“ThinkDIFFERENTLY” is one of several initiatives County Executive Molinaro will discuss during the 2018 State of the County address, which will be held on Wednesday, February 28th at 5 p.m. at Culinary Institute of America’s Marriott Pavilion, located at 1946 Campus Drive in Hyde Park. Residents can RSVP for the State of the County address at or by calling (845) 486-2000.