Bridgewell gets $190K for autism programs

LYNNFIELD — Bridgewell’s efforts to support and help individuals with intellectual, developmental and psychiatric disabilities will be boosted by a three-year, $189,728 grant from The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation.

The Foundation grant will support the new “Bridges to Family Success” program in partnership with Children’s Friend and Family Services and will help pay for services for families raising a child or young adult with autism or other intellectual or developmental disabilities.

This is the largest private grant Bridgewell has ever received.

“We are so grateful to The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation for its generous support of the ‘Bridges to Family Success’ program,” said Kelly J. Martin, chief operations officer of Bridgewell.

The program will focus particularly on families in Lynn and surrounding communities who face additional barriers, such as cultural and linguistic diversity or complex behavioral health challenges hindering access to appropriate services and community resources for their child.

“The Tower Foundation is incredibly honored to support this program,” said Tracy A. Sawicki, executive director of The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation. “We have long been dedicated to serving the various societal and community needs of children, adolescents and young adults affected by learning and intellectual disabilities.”

Families will receive help developing individualized family plans with help from trained care coordinators. Trainers will help child behavioral health needs and establish long-term care goals. Families will receive quality training and support on how to navigate the behavioral health system to obtain services and get help strengthening family bonds.

“Bridges to Family Success” will also host numerous community social events for families to establish a continued network of peer support.

“Raising a child with autism can be highly stressful on its own, and more daunting when combined with life circumstances such as linguistic or cultural diversity, poverty and behavioral health challenges. This new partnership will help meet the unique needs of these families in need of support,” Martin said.

Although children with intellectual or developmental disabilities are at increased risk of developing behavioral problems, many of their parents are not receiving needed support.

“Too often services for families are locked into silos, which create barriers to access. This project breaks down those silos and opens up opportunities for families. It also lays the foundation for new partnerships and knowledge to better support those families who have a child with complex needs,” said Stephanie Sladen, executive director of Children’s Friend and Family Services.  

Bridgewell serves more than 6,250 individuals and their families in Massachusetts, providing residential and day services, affordable housing and homeless services, clinical services, substance use disorder treatment, recreational services, as well as employment training and educational services.

The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation supports community programming that results in children, adolescents, and young adults affected by substance use disorders, learning disabilities, mental illness, and intellectual disabilities achieving their full potential.

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