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County to Host 6th Annual ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ Conference on Friday, December 2nd

Published: 11/16/2022

Poughkeepsie, NY... Dutchess County will host the sixth annual "Collaboration of Services and Care Across the Life Span for People of All Abilities ThinkDIFFERENTLY conference on Friday, December 2nd at 9am. The conference will be held in a hybrid format, both in person at The Henry A. Wallace Center at the FDR Presidential Library and Home located at 4079 Albany Post Road in Hyde Park and virtually on Microsoft Teams. The event is for families and providers to discuss planning care for someone with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Registration is required and can be done at  

County Executive Molinaro said, County Executive Molinaro said, “Dutchess County puts emphasis on supporting those off all abilities and our goal is helping families navigate through life and be aware of the many programs and services available to them. Bringing providers and families together is a great way to continue the conversation on best practices and decide where there may be room for improvement. As we launch the development of our All Abilities Action Plan, we are thrilled to host this collaborative event for those with disabilities and service providers.” 

Dutchess County’s Director of Emergency Management Bill Beale will provide the keynote presentation, discussing emergency preparedness with a focus on those with disabilities. He will address families that may include a person with special needs and how they can prepare themselves to assist their loved ones during an emergency.

Throughout the afternoon, guest speakers, will share insight and discuss resources and services valuable to residents of all abilities during different periods in their lives.

Presentation topics include:

  • Early Intervention (EI) and Preschool: discuss processes and differences in evaluation from EI to Preschool for speech and other services.
  • The IEP and 504: how to seamlessly navigate these processes and programs.
  • Transition Planning: providing information on the support and services available during transitional periods for those ages 15-21.  
  • Adult Opportunities: providing opportunities for adults of all abilities such as the ThinkAHEAD college program through Dutchess Community College or employment opportunities in programs such as “Think Jobs.”

The afternoon will conclude with an “open discussion” for parents, where they will have the opportunity to speak with other parents, ask questions, and gather information to better serve their family members with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Dutchess County All-Abilities Director Dana Hopkins shared, “The annual ThinkDIFFERENTLY conference is a day that many in our community look forward to. Attendees can hear from and speak directly to the providers that serve their family members. I truly believe there is such value in that. Each year we have received positive feedback that attendees have left with a wealth of knowledge. On the other side, community providers, benefit from hearing from families and caretakers on current needs as it enables us to best serve our residents of all abilities.”

County Executive Molinaro recently presented his proposed 2023 budget that included Dutchess County’s forthcoming ThinkDIFFERENTLY All Abilities Action Plan. The action plan will expand the established ThinkDIFFERENTLY’s initiative as well as set new goals with actionable items to make the Dutchess County community more accessible for those of all abilities to live, work and learn.

County Executive Molinaro created the “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” initiative in 2015 as a way of fostering a more welcoming and inclusive community for individuals of all abilities. Since its inception, more than 100 municipalities throughout New York State and several others across the nation have followed Dutchess County’s example and 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