Program FUSEing resources to help in independent living

HANCOCK COUNTY — When children move out of their parents’ home, the process can leave both sides feeling uneasy about the road ahead.

But for parents who have cared for loved ones with developmental disabilities for decades, the transition to independent living can be outright overwhelming, said Denise Arland, executive director of Families United for Support and Encouragement, a local nonprofit.

FUSE, a support organization for Indiana families raising children with special needs, will conduct a training session for local parents who want to help their kids establish independence outside of their childhood homes.

The free presentation, scheduled for 7 p.m., Nov. 17, at the Hancock County Public Library, 900 W. McKenzie Road, seeks to reassure parents that there are services available to ease their children’s transition.

Some parents who care for children with special needs might be unsure if an independent lifestyle is a viable option for their child, Arland said.

“It’s a topic that’s difficult for a lot of parents to think about,” Arland said. “But if you don’t know all the options that are available to you, you can’t map out a plan.”

The presentation will highlight various federal assistance programs, like Medicaid, as well as group home availability and services that provide home visits to help individuals with everyday tasks like budgeting or grocery shopping.

Laurel Stewart, director of Developmental Service Alternatives in Greenfield, a company that provides assisted-living facilities to individuals with special needs, will lead a discussion about the options available to families.

Some parents, especially those who are still caring for children in adulthood, might be reluctant to give up care to others, Stewart said.

But that apprehension often fades after parents learn how extensive some services are, Stewart said.

“When a lot of people learn about group homes, they may think their kids are being institutionalized,” Stewart said. “A lot of time, it’s just a matter of offering tours and showing people that that’s not the case; there’s a sense of community here.”

Joe Gunn, an independent living advocate for accessABILITY, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit that connects individuals with disabilities with the right resources for their individualized goals, will also lead a presentation at the event.

Gunn said he plans to stress the importance of allowing individuals with disabilities to advocate for themselves.

“We don’t want to tell them what their goals should be; we want to let them know what’s out there, then help connect them with what they need to achieve their goals,” he said.

A presenter from the Bureau of Developmental Disabilities, a state agency that connects individual with disabilities with financial assistance and support services, will also lead a presentation at the event.

After the presentations, which Arland estimates will take about an hour, audience members will have a chance to ask presenters questions.

Local families interested in attending the event need to register online at by Nov. 15.

If you go

What: A presentation for parents whose children with special needs are interested in moving out of their family home and gaining independence.

When: 7 to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 17

Where: Hancock County Public Library, 900 W. McKenzie Rd, Greenfield

RSVP: Individuals must register for the presentation by Nov. 15 at

Daniel Morgan is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at (317) 477-3228 or