Care ideas for autistic children SOS effort: Organization considers setting up live-in program
Copyright Copley Press January 31, 2004
By Andrea Hein STAFF WRITER
LOCKPORT — SOS Children's Village executives are considering a
program to care for autistic children as part of the
organization's new initiative for increased community
"Right now, no one is serving that population," said Robert
Ochenkowski, chief executive officer of SOS Children's Villages
The nonprofit foster-care organization provides a permanent home
for children who cannot return to their biological parents and
have little chance of being adopted with their brothers and
SOS differs from other child welfare agencies in that it specializes in keeping siblings together under one roof.
Ochenkowski said SOS village administrators are aware that
several autistic children live in the Lockport area, but the
nearest residential facilities that provide the required care are
far away like Rockford.
"It's a shame people would have to drive 3 1/2 hours one way," Ochenkowski said.
SOS staff members are looking into the possibility of setting up
a live-in program and, maybe later, short-term care.
"At times, families just need a respite," Ochenkowski said.
But the logistics of providing the specialized care have not been
worked out. Right now, the SOS board of directors is merely
looking at the program's feasibility.
"We are exploring our options," Ochenkowski said.
The village is also expected to increase its capabilities to take on more foster children this year.
The Lockport foster-care facility currently has 58 children living in 11 homes.
This spring, administrators expect to complete construction on
six additional houses that can accommodate an additional 36
And the children's village is partnering with a second nonprofit group — called KaBoom! — to build a playground.
KaBoom! partners with corporations to build play places in underserved areas.
"It's a very exciting project," Ochenkowski said.
The purpose for all the new programs and facilities is to create
stronger bonds between the village and the Lockport area.
"We are starting the process of becoming more and more involved in the Lockport community itself," Ochenkowski said.