MISSION: Caring Solutions doesn’t want to be a one-size-fits-all program. Instead, it is focused on providing long-term support to meet the needs of its clients with developmental disabilities, and is altering its services to fit each individual.
HISTORY: Founded in 2001, Caring Solutions began with a four-bed group home. As philosophies regarding proper care changed, so did the services offered. Now, four main service models are being utilized: supported living homes, host families, companion homes and in-home support. Whether its best for the client to stay with relatives or live long-term with a Caring Solutions host, the organization is dedicated to doing what’s right for the individual.
“When we started, I went to the [Missouri] Department of Mental Health and I said, What kinds of services do you need that you don’t currently have?” Madi Hawn, Caring Solutions CEO and co-founder, recalls. “One thing that always struck me was how families had a hard time working through the system and getting the services they needed. I always felt families were really not treated as customers, and that’s why I made such a big commitment to make services around people’s needs.”
Originally based in St. Louis County, Caring Solutions now serves clients in St. Louis city and county, St. Charles County, Franklin County, Jefferson County and Lincoln County. “We are pretty small, but we are all over the place.”
COMMUNITY IMPACT: “We serve the most vulnerable citizens,” Hawn says. She explains that families dealing with these issues may be in crisis: parents acting as caretakers may no longer be able to offer the same support as they get older, children may be in abusive situations, problems may require more care than families can offer, and the like.
“We keep adding service models because it’s important for us to deliver the services that people need, rather than lugging them into an existing service,” explains Hawn. Presently, Caring Solutions’ clients include 41 adults and five children, with two of its clients utilizing the in-home support services.
More support options are on the horizon as Caring Solutions looks to continue its growth. “We are currently working on a contract with the St. Charles County Board to begin providing independent living arrangements, which are for people who only need maybe seven to 10 hours of support each day,” Hawn says. “On the other spectrum, we are working on a project involving crisis intervention.”
Caring Solutions receives referrals from the Missouri Department of Mental Health, explains Hawn, but the funding provided by the state doesn’t balance the budget. “The clients’ benefits are being used to pay for room and board, but usually the clients only get about $640 per month to pay for food, utilities, rent… all their costs,” Hawn says. “We have to subsidize these costs significantly.”
WHAT/WHEN/WHERE: JAZZIN’ IT UP GALA, APRIL 12, 6:30 P.M., EDWARD JONES ATRIUM
The annual Caring Solutions gala will feature a silent auction, dinner and live music.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED: For more information, call 942-7350 or visit caringsolutions.org.
ON THE COUNCIL: DENNIS WOLDUM
Dennis Woldum, a former Caring Solutions board member who currently serves on the advisory council, says that the organization struck a note with him.
“I’ve been involved in many boards, but I don’t think I’ve ever been involved in an organization that makes the difference that Caring Solutions does. It’s an underserved population with so many people, and such as stigma—and I can say that because I think I had it myself,” says Woldum. “What you find when you sit with all of these people is that—despite their disabilities—they all have something to give. It’s cliché, but they’re human beings—they’re funny, they’re witty, [and] they’re, in many ways, intelligent.”
Outside of his work with Caring Solutions, Woldum, who is a consultant for USI Midwest, serves as chairman emeritus at Gateway Greening and volunteers for the St. Louis Audubon Society Bring Conservation Home program.