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County to Host the 2nd Annual Collaboration of Services Across the Life Span for People Living with Special Needs
‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ event aims to aid in planning of lifetime care

Published: 11/23/2018

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Colleen Pillus

Poughkeepsie … Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro and Deputy Commissioner for Special Needs Toni-Marie Ciarfella will host local families of those living with disabilities, as well as local providers who serve them, at Dutchess County’s Collaboration of Services and Care Across the Life Span for People with Special Needs, the second annual all-day conference to assist in the planning of process for lifelong care of those with developmental and other disabilities. The event will take place Friday, November 30th from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; registration begins at 8 a.m., and residents can reserve their spot at

Hosted by the Henry A. Wallace Visitor and Educational Center at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, the conference will provide education and training for families and providers to understand the continuum of care when planning for individuals of every ability.

County Executive Molinaro said, “The stress of determining care for a loved one with a disability is all too familiar for families at they plan their loved one’s future. Our conference will bring families and service providers face-to-face to collaborate and help plan for the best care for those with developmental disabilities and other challenges – not just care for today, but for years to come. Last year’s forum brought about constructive dialogues, and I encourage families to attend this year to become part of similarly beneficial discussions.”

Jennifer Scully, Assistant Head of School at the Maplebrook School in Amenia, is the conference’s keynote speaker and will discuss fostering independence and resiliency in youths. She will share simple changes in communicating and teaching youth that will foster independence and resiliency into their everyday life, as well as how to help families employ the same principles when their loved ones are out of the school environment. 

Topics to be discussed at three panel presentations will include understanding eligibility and services for those with disabilities throughout various stages of life – birth to 5 years, 6 to 15 years, and 16 through the life course of adulthood. In addition to these discussions, Verlaine Brunot will be presenting his journey of becoming a Self-Direction Broker for his brother share insights and experiences of working within this system of care.

Deputy Commissioner Ciarfella said, “By bringing together both families and service providers, each can better understand one another. Families can learn what services are available during various stages of a loved one’s life, and providers can better discern – and potentially adapt – the way they can offer services, since families’ needs change as their loved one grows older.”

Established in 2015, the “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” initiative seeks to change the way individuals, businesses, organizations and communities relate to individuals with disabilities. Following Dutchess County’s example, 100 municipalities throughout New York State have passed “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” resolutions, committing to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for individuals of all abilities.

More information about Dutchess County’s efforts to “ThinkDIFFERENTLY,” as well as ways communities can be more supportive of those of every ability, is available at