YAI and SARC Launch Proven Crisis Response Model for People with Disabilities

Tue, July 09, 2019

simple black outline of the state of California with a palm tree and YAI logo, on a red backgroundSAN JOSE, California, July 8, 2019 – Two large nonprofits from different sides of the country have joined to pilot a cutting-edge crisis support model for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), in San Jose. On July 1, YAI, a New York-based I/DD services organization, partnered with the San Andreas Regional Center (SARC), which serves a similar population in California’s South Bay and Central Coast, to launch START (Systemic, Therapeutic, Assessment, Resources, and Treatment) services for people in Santa Clara County.

The first of its kind in Northern California, START currently supports people with I/DD and co-occurring behavioral health conditions in 10 states. In addition to crisis response for individuals, families, and caregivers, START provides training, consultation, therapeutic services, and technical assistance to support people with I/DD who have complex behavioral needs.  

“START offers crisis support, which is distinct from crisis intervention,” said Cheryl Karran, Director of YAI’s New York START program. “When people with I/DD have a behavioral crisis, traditional hospital or police interventions are often counter-productive, if not dangerous. For instance, a person with autism and schizoaffective disorder might not respond to police commands, making them vulnerable to excessive force. By contrast, START works with families and care providers surrounding the individual to address the roots of the person’s crisis and minimize future emergencies.”

In New York, where YAI operates the largest START program in the region, the program reduced psychiatric emergency room visits by 16 percent from the year prior to START’s implementation. START’s crisis response plan recognizes unique behavioral patterns and gives family and service providers access to treatment options they never had before, including in-home supports, crisis prevention consultation and training, and cross-system partnerships.

According to Jeffrey Darling, SARC’s Associate Director of Community Services, the START model meets a growing demand for person-first crisis response in the region.

“Given YAI’s reputation for providing START services in New York City, San Andreas Regional Center is very pleased to be partnering with YAI as they bring their expertise to California,” Darling said.

Founded in 1957 as the Young Adult Institute, YAI takes a person-first approach to provide housing, education, medical care, vocational training, community integration, and social services to more than 20,000 people with I/DD in downstate New York and New Jersey. Similarly, SARC serves more than 13,700 people with I/DD with holistic community and family supports. According to YAI’s CEO George Contos, this shared approach made YAI a natural partner for SARC.

“YAI is thrilled to partner with SARC to be the first to offer START’s services in California,” said Contos. “For decades, YAI has pioneered person-centered, holistic services for people with I/DD throughout the metropolitan area. We believe that our experience — and SARC’s mutual commitment to putting the people we serve first — will be tremendously valuable to the I/DD community in Santa Clara County.”

START services begin in the fall and will be available to children aged six and older, adults, family members, and I/DD service providers in Santa Clara County.