FAQ

  1. What is Wendell Foster? Who was Wendell Foster?
  2. Didn’t it used to be called The Spastics Home?
  3. How many people live there?
  4. Besides residential, what other services does Wendell Foster provide?
  5. What is cerebral palsy?
  6. What’s a developmental disability? How is it different from cerebral palsy?
  7. What causes developmental disabilities?
  8. What is the annual budget for Wendell Foster?
  9. What are the funding sources of Wendell Foster?
  10. How many staff does Wendell Foster employ?
  11. What are the ages of people Wendell Foster serves?
  12. Do you just serve children in your outpatient services?
  13. Does Wendell Foster ever need volunteers?
  14. Who do I call to get more information?
  15. How does someone go about getting services?
  16. Who pays for services if I can’t afford them?
  17. Is Wendell Foster like a nursing home? What’s an ICF/IID?
  18. What do the people who live at Wendell Foster do during the day?
  19. Do you accept donations? What kind of donations do you accept?
  20. Do you accept wheelchair donations? Do you fix or sell wheelchairs to the public?
  21. Do people who live here ever leave to go places or visit family?
  22. What happens if a someone gets sick?
  23. What are “Assistive Devices” and “Assistive Technology?”
  24. Does Wendell Foster offer college or professional internships?
  25. Can you tell me more about the Autism Program?
  26. What is Wendell Foster’s most pressing need?

1. What is Wendell Foster? Who was Wendell Foster?

Wendell Foster is a local, non-profit, multi-service agency that works with people of all ages who have disabilities. It has historically specialized in serving people who have severe cerebral palsy and related disorders, but it now serves children and adults with other disabilities ranging from autism to traumatic brain injury and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Wendell Foster and his wife, Edith, founded the organization in 1947 to help their daughter, Louise, and other children in the community who experienced cerebral palsy. They operated the agency until the mid-1970’s when they retired.

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2. Didn’t it used to be called The Spastics Home?

Yes. The earliest name of the organization was actually The Davets Home for Spastic Paralysis, named for the veterans organization that helped to pay for its first building, a large old house near the corner of 9th and Triplett Streets. Spastic paralysis is a term for what is now more commonly called cerebral palsy. The name of the agency changed to The Spastics Home and School in the late 1940’s, a name it kept until the mid-70’s when it was renamed The Wendell Foster Center in honor of its retiring founder. A few years ago the name was updated simply to Wendell Foster to emphasize the multi-faceted nature of the agency.

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3. How many people live there?

When most people think of Wendell Foster, they think of the 81 people who have chosen to make the Wendell Foster their home, which is actually a small proportion of the over 1300 people we touch annually. Residentially, we serve people through three different programs: Intermediate Care Facility for Individuals with Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities (ICF/IID), Supports for Community Living (SCL) and Independent Living. WF has the current capacity to serve 63 people in our licensed ICF/IID (in four 16 bed cottages). The ICF facility also has 1 respite care bed. The ICF environment provides 24 hour nursing care and intensive therapies and supports to individuals needing this type of care, supervision and support. People who reside in the Supports for Community Living (SCL) homes require less medical and behavioral support needs but continue to have 24 hour staff support. There are two to three people living in each SCL home. Finally, Wendell Foster offers four 1 bedroom “independent living” homes, which are small wheelchair accessible homes designed for individuals with disabilities who are capable of independent living, and perhaps with only occasional supports from a home health or other social service agency.

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4. Besides residential, what other services does Wendell Foster provide?

We also offer a large outpatient services program, as well as the Technology and Resource Center. Outpatient services, offered at Wendell Foster and at area public schools, include speech/ communication therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy and assistive technology evaluations. WF’s licensed Comprehensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Facility (CORF) serves about 580 people, mostly infants and children, on an annual basis with speech, occupational and physical therapies. In addition, the Technology and Resource Center’s lending library, demonstration laboratory and professional training programs touch an additional 5000 or more people annually in 34 Kentucky counties and Southern Indiana. WF has three Assistive Technology Professionals certified to provide assistive technology assessments for individuals with a wide array of disabling conditions. WF is a provider of a variety of in-home and community-based supports for individuals still residing in their own homes. WF also provides after-school programming, summer camp, and pre-employment training for youth who have autism spectrum disorder.

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5. What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral Palsy (CP) describes a group of chronic conditions affecting body movement and muscle coordination. The effects may range from mild to severe. Depending on other brain damage that might be present, the condition may or may not be associated with other disabilities, most commonly intellectual disability and/or seizure, vision, hearing, and communication disorders. CP is caused by damage to one or more specific areas of the brain, usually occurring during fetal development; before, during or after birth; or during infancy. The faulty development or damage to motor areas of the brain disrupts the brain’s normal ability to adequately control movement and posture. CP is not a disease and it is not curable, but its impact can be managed in positive ways.

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6. What’s a developmental disability? How is it different from Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is one of a group of disabilities that impact children during their developmental period (usually considered to be pre-natal through young adulthood ages of 21-23), all of them known as “developmental disabilities.” The term “developmental disability” also includes intellectual disability, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorders and certain learning disabilities. They may occur independently in a child, or in combination with each other. Like CP, these disabilities are not curable, but through early diagnosis and intervention, their impact on the person’s life may be managed and their lifelong needs for care significantly reduced.

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7. What causes developmental disabilities?

There are over 100 known causes of developmental disabilities. These include various problems that exist prior to pregnancy, occur during pregnancy, problems at birth, and problems or accidents occurring after birth. There are also pervasive cultural and poverty related risk factors that can cause a child to experience barriers or delays to normal mental and physical development. They all serve to emphasize the importance of good prenatal care, the avoidance of environmental hazards and knowledge of family history. Even with the knowledge of conditions that we know can cause developmental disabilities, the diagnosis of approximately one-half of occurrences remains unclear.

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8. What is the annual budget for Wendell Foster?

The 2017-18 budget for WF is almost $18 million. About 82% of that goes to serve individuals who require intense 24 hour supports and nursing care in our ICF/IID residential program. About 8.5% goes for the less structured SCL and independent living operations. And the remainder goes for outpatient and assistive technology services.

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9. What are the funding sources for Wendell Foster?

While WF began as a totally charitably funded effort, relying on the community and family members for 100% of its budget, it now pursues multiple funding sources. Most of its residential and in-home support service recipients qualify for Medicaid coverage of the most basic care and services needed. Other sources include support from Medicaid, private insurance, First Steps (birth through age 3) funds, the KY Assistive Technology Services (KATS) Network, grants from sources such as the WHAS Crusade for Children, Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, the William and Marilyn Young Charitable Foundation, and charitable gifts from private donors and organizations that conduct fundraisers on our behalf. All of these sources are needed to adequately meet the needs of those we serve.

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10. How many staff does Wendell Foster employ?

We directly employee about 350 people in a variety of positions ranging from housekeeping, dietary and direct support positions to professional therapists. We also have another approximately 10 contracted employees, ranging from physicians and other professional consultants to behavior technicians and security.

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11. What are the ages of people Wendell Foster serves?

We serve birth through adulthood through various outpatient therapy programs, and serve people throughout adulthood. Our oldest service recipients are in their 70’s.

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12. Do you just serve children in your outpatient services?

Our CORF (Comprehensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Facility) is recognized for its specialization in pediatric speech, physical, and occupational therapies, but the program also serves many adults. Many of the residents of WF’s ICF/IID and SCL residential programs receive therapy services through CORF. In addition, the CORF offers therapies to adults who reside in the community. Therapy services are paid through Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance. Many adults who experience disabilities are also taking advantage of the assistive technology assessments that our qualified assistive technology practitioners with specialized training are able to offer, as well as the assistive technology lab and lending library offered through the Technology and Resource Center, a part of our CORF operations.

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13. Does Wendell Foster ever need volunteers?

Volunteers have always been an important part of Wendell Foster. Volunteers play an important part in not only getting the work at Wendell Foster completed, but in also assuring that the people we support have regular contact with non-paid people who are concerned with their welfare. When WF first started, almost all of the work and service was provided by volunteers. As a non-profit, charitable organization, WF is governed by a volunteer board of directors. The board also has several committees that include outside volunteers as well as regular board members. Most of the special events at WF, such as its annual benefit auction, require lots of volunteer hours and support. Volunteer ministers and church youth groups are responsible for assuring the facility has a weekly worship service. Entertainers of all types are always welcome. We also have the need for volunteers who can sew clothing protectors, read to residents, send individuals cards and letters, stuff envelopes for special mailings and similar projects.

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14. Who do I call to get more information?

We try to answer most question on the website. If you have a specific question, please call the main switchboard at 270-683-4517 during normal business hours, and the receptionist can refer you to the appropriate person. You can also email [email protected] and the appropriate person will respond to your questions.

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15. How does someone go about getting services?

There are many different ways that people come to utilize our services. Some start the process by simply calling and asking to talk with someone about the help a person needs. Others come to us as referrals from school systems, doctors, other therapists, and private or governmental agencies.

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16. Who pays for services if I can’t afford them?

We will not refuse service to anyone based on inability to pay. Most adults who need residential services will qualify for Medicaid based on their disability. Many children may qualify for various government programs. A family’s health insurance may also pay for many of the therapies a child might need. Families should call and discuss their individual situations with us. Charitable dollars help support services to people who have no other funding source.

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17. Is Wendell Foster like a nursing home? What’s an ICF/IID?

Part of Wendell Foster is made up of four 16 bed cottages that, as a group, are licensed as an ICF/IID (or Intermediate Care Facility for Individuals with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities.) This is a different licensure than a nursing home. Kentucky’s building code regulations relating to ICF’s/IID are the same as those for nursing homes, so there may be a similarity in appearance. An ICF/IID must have nursing staff available at all times. Nursing homes are typically for older people and for people whose conditions are deteriorating, or who need rehabilitation to regain skills that they once had. An ICF/IID has an educational and social focus that is aimed at helping people develop new skills they’ve never had. What is unique about an ICF/IID is the requirement for “active treatment” which moves the person towards greater independence.

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18. What do the people who live at Wendell Foster do during the day?

Those individuals who reside at WF and who are still school age attend special education classes through the Owensboro Public Schools. Adults residing at WF have a choice of daily activities. For instance, some work full or part time for Hugh Sandefur Industries, a Henderson company that employees people with disabilities to perform various assembly and packaging jobs. Others attend community day programs of their choice, have jobs and/or perform outside volunteer work. Evening and weekend recreation activities, on-site and in the community, are popular with residents. Many attend worship on Sundays. Each individual has a “person centered plan” that is developed by the individual and his/her family in cooperation with an interdisciplinary professional team, designed to help the person achieve meaningful goals and dreams. The idea is to empower people to have positive control in their life.

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19. Do you accept donations? What kind of donations do you accept?

Wendell Foster is a qualified non-profit organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenues Services code. As such, charitable contributions to WF are welcome, appreciated and tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. This certainly includes monetary donations for general or designated purposes. It can also include donations of stock, property or other things of value that Wendell Foster can use or sell. The facility does not have any type of recycling or thrift store operation that would allow us to dispose of personal items or equipment that cannot be immediately used by WF. When contributing property or personal items, contributors should understand that WF is not able to offer appraisals of the value of those items for tax purposes. The contributor is responsible for obtaining or providing estimates or appraisals of value.

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20. What about wheelchairs? Do you accept wheelchair donations? Do you fix or sell wheelchairs to the public?

Wendell Foster does accept donations of wheelchairs that can be used for parts or rebuilt for service recipients. (It should be noted that the value of a new wheelchair depreciates rapidly once it has been put into use, much like a new car. Donors are sometimes disappointed to learn that they cannot sell near-new wheelchairs for anywhere near their original cost. That depreciated value, of course, is what can be used for tax deduction purposes for a charitable gift.) While Wendell Foster does have maintenance personnel who are skilled at maintaining and repairing wheelchairs, we do not offer this service to the public, nor do we sell wheelchairs or wheelchair parts.

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21. Do people who live here ever leave to go places or visit family?

Our goal is to help people live a good life which means experiencing as many of the things in ordinary daily life that each of us experience. Home visits are encouraged, assuming the families are able to meet the individual’s needs. Because many of the people served at WF are non-ambulatory and classified “medically fragile,” in need of rather constant medical support and monitoring, it can be a challenge for people to participate in their community. However, every effort is made to their community relationships as much as possible. Many people go out and shop for their own clothing and personal items, and  enjoy going to community events and shows. Some are quite stable medically and are able to enjoy everyday activities like all of us.

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22. What happens if someone gets sick?

The ICF/IID program at Wendell Foster has 24 hour nursing staff that has special skills in dealing with the medical needs of this particular population. All direct care staff are trained in First Aid and CPR, as well as in recognizing the signs of illness or distress in the individuals we serve. In addition, Wendell Foster has an on-call physician/medical director if needed.

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23. What are “Assistive Devices” and “Assistive Technology?”

In their simplest form, we all use assistive devices or technology. If we wear glasses or use a remote control for our TV we are using such devices and technology. Assistive devices and assistive technology are pieces of equipment or materials that allow a person to do things he/she might not ordinarily be able to do due to a disability that the person experiences. A modified spoon or a special brace might help a person with physical disabilities to eat or perform a certain task that he/she couldn’t do without the special equipment. Modern electronics and computerization are allowing people to communicate when they cannot otherwise speak or control things in their environment in ways that were not possible only a few years ago. WF, through its Technology and Resource Center, has access to the most current inventions and ideas that help can people with a variety of disabilities perform functional skills resulting in greater independence.

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24. Does Wendell Foster offer college or professional internships?

Yes. WF works with many colleges and universities (including Brescia University, Kentucky Wesleyan College, Kentucky Community & Technical College, and many others), in nursing, special education, psychology, sociology, physical/occupational/speech therapy programs to provide short term internships and clinical experiences for college students. We find that these relationships provide not only a valuable service to the community and to students, but also provide WF with current “state of the art” information and practices being generated through university research and training.

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25. Can you tell me more about the Autism Program?

The Wendell Foster Autism Program began in 2009 as a collaborative effort of WF and the Western Kentucky University (WKU) Clinical Education Complex. The goal of the alliance was to create a satellite of and replicate the Kelly Autism Program developed by WKU in Bowling Green. In 2011, the local program operations were taken completely over by WF. The program serves youth who experience autism spectrum disorders through after-school programs and activities, a summer camp, and pre-vocational training. The program is funded by grants and tuition fees but lacks secure long-range funding. Charitable gifts are sought for student scholarships and to meet needs for equipment and supplies.

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26. What is Wendell Foster’s most pressing need?

The greatest ongoing need is for community awareness and acceptance of people with disabilities. This, of course, suggests multiple educational and environmental initiatives that need to be taken by individuals and social institutions to build such a culture. On a less philosophical level, there is an ongoing need for individuals who would volunteer to show a special interest in residents who have no active families.

From a financial need perspective, Wendell Foster has several projects under development that will need financial support. Additional wheelchair accessible passenger vans are needed to allow our people greater access to the community. Funding for recreation and leisure activities is an ongoing challenge. There are over 10,500  Kentuckians with disabilities who are currently living with aging parents. Wendell Foster is planning additional housing to help meet this need.

We are trying to increase our assistive technology offerings and expand programs in response to the dramatic increase in autism in our community. These are just a few of the projects that need attention.

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