School-Based Partnerships

All of the programs at UCP of Greater Cleveland rely on partnerships to run as smoothly and effectively as possible. Our Children’s Services Department has a multitude of partnerships: school-based, community-based, physicians and vendors; all of these relationships are invaluable. The one that will be highlighted in this week’s blog is school-based partnerships.

UCP of Greater Cleveland contracts with seven school districts to provide occupational therapy, physical therapy and assistive technology. These school districts include Warrensville Heights, Maple Heights, Cuyahoga Heights, Richmond Heights, Independence, Rosemary Center School and Ohio Virtual Academy. Our therapists can either treat children at school, or the children have the option to come to UCP’s therapy facility for treatment. UCP of Greater Cleveland also contracts with and supports school districts with temporary therapy coverage needs, such as Cleveland Heights and The Sight Center.

UCP Case Managers are also involved in schools to assist parents of a child with a disability and to support parental self advocacy through the IEP (which is an individualized service plan that leads the child’s educational goals). Case Managers also partner with parents during their child’s pivotal transitional periods which would include preschool, middle school, high school and community-based services. The Case Manager with UCP’s therapy team can also consult with and visit the school district to enhance communication and carryover of functional goals.

UCP also provides contracted Extended School Year (ESY) services for continuation of IEP services throughout summer to maintain and enhance functional/education goals determined by individual school districts. During their ESY, a child can be included in UCP of Greater Cleveland’s unique intensive therapy program “Steps to Independence.” This past summer, UCP partnered with four schools districts, two of them being Wickliffe and Independence.

UCP of Greater Cleveland can be contracted to provide a Comprehensive Evaluation for the special needs student. An interdisciplinary therapeutic team including a speech language pathologist, an occupational therapist, a physical therapist and a RESNA certified Assistive Technology Professional (ATP) with a background in special education is able to consult and assist the school in finding creative ways to support the student and develop a better functional plan to enhance educational outcomes for the student. One major area that UCP provides assessment, consultation and training for is Assistive Technology. Assistive technology is any device or service that improves a child’s ability to use their strengths to interact with the world around them and enhance their educational attainment.

For more information about UCP of Greater Cleveland’s School-Based Partnerships, please call (216) 791-8362 ext. 1250 or email email Or visit our website at

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#GivingTuesday – Decemeber 2, 2014

Collage#GivingTuesday‬ is only two weeks away! We have a day for giving thanks. We have two days for getting deals (Black Friday and Cyber Monday). Now, we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Join UCP of Greater Cleveland and be a part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity.

Our goal is to raise $5,000 on Tuesday, December 2nd. This amount can sponsor one month of Steps to Independence intensive therapy for a child. We encourage everyone who donates to show off your “unselfie” with the following hashtags: #GivingTuesday, #UCPCLE‬ and #Unselfie. We also have three members from our Board of Directors who said they will match every #GivingTuesday gift to UCP of Greater Cleveland, up to $1,000 each.

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Helping Infants & Children with Selective Eating Habits – December 9, 2014

The Autism Society of Greater Cleveland welcomes Karen Porter, OTR/L from Galvin Therapy Center as she discusses non-invasive approaches for infants and children with selective eating disorders.

Karen is a Senior Occupational Therapist with over 16 years experience at Galvin Therapy Center in Warrensville Heights and she will discuss methods to help parents and caregivers address the eating habits of children on the spectrum or with other sensory issues. Many babies, children and teens on the autism spectrum or with sensory issues, reflux disease or gut issues have a difficult time eating foods that are healthy choices. Many parents struggle with these dietary issues on a daily basis and Karen will address some different non-invasive approaches to help these children eat balanced diets.

Please note, for this meeting only, there will not be S.T.A.R. Social Skills Classes. This is a Parent/Professional Only Meeting. There will be NO supervision of children during the parent meeting. Please make other arrangements for child care to attend this meeting.

Please click here to register for the meeting. (Note: Please use your own email address, not the one provided in the link.)

What: Non-Evasive Approaches for Helping Infants & Children with Selective Eating Habits
When: Tuesday December 9, 2014 from 6:30 – 8:30pm
Where: Independence Civic Center (6363 Selig Drive, Independence, OH 44131)
Cost: Free, but you must register here

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UCP Partnerships – Project SEARCH at Cleveland Clinic

The Project SEARCH High School Transition Program is a one-year school-to-work program for students with disabilities who are in their last year of high school. This unique program is a partnership between a host business, school system and vocational rehabilitation agency that provides on-site internship experiences so that the students may acquire necessary skills for employment. This is an evidence-based program whose primary objective is to secure competitive employment for young people with disabilities while changing business culture to show the value of hiring persons with disabilities.

Carol Ann Shinsky, an employee of the Cleveland Clinic, attended a Project SEARCH open house at Mercy Hospital in Lorain County. Carol is also a parent of a child with a developmental disability. After the presentation, she contacted a close friend and neighbor who was in a position to implement such a program at the Clinic. After approximately a year of planning meetings with Cleveland Clinic management, UCP of Greater Cleveland, BVR, and Project SEARCH Co-Founder Susie Rutkowski, the program began in 2013.

Project SEARCH student interns attend the program Monday through Friday from 8:00am-2:30pm. Each day they attend at least an hour and a half of classroom time during which an instructor reviews employability skills such as time management, team work and work ethic. For the remainder of the day, the interns report to their internship departments to receive on-the-job training from staff members as well as job coaches. The interns go through three separate internship rotations at the site for a period of 10 weeks each. Some of the departments within the Cleveland Clinic that Project SEARCH interns work in are Surgical Support, Digestive Disease Institute and Environmental Services.

A big advantage of the Project SEARCH model is that everyone benefits from the partnership:

  • Student interns: Interns receive on-the-job training and employability skills training while immersed in a world-class hospital setting. They have the opportunity to learn job skills in three different work areas, giving them a wide array of transferable skills to utilize in resumes, applications and other work settings. Collectively, this gives the clients invaluable experience that will assist them in searching for competitive employment upon completion of the program.
  • UCP (vocational rehabilitation agency): Project SEARCH demonstrates UCP of Greater Cleveland’s mission to empower children and adults with disabilities to advance their independence, productivity and inclusion in the community. UCP has been provided opportunities to attend meetings at the Cleveland Clinic, such as the Cleveland Clinic Diversity Task Force meeting to discuss the challenges faced by those with disabilities in healthcare settings. UCP has also been able to recruit future Project SEARCH interns and promote the program to groups from other communities by giving them tours of the program at the Cleveland Clinic site.
  • Cleveland Clinic (host business): One way the Cleveland Clinic has benefited from this partnership is that Project SEARCH’s presence has allowed for the culture of the Clinic to shift, showing staff as well as patients and visitors that people with disabilities are just as competent as a person without a disability. Some staff from the Cleveland Clinic (managers, business liaisons, etc.) have spoken to Project SEARCH staff about uncertainties or concerns regarding working with people who have disabilities. This has provided UCP the opportunity of educating the wider community on working and living among those with disabilities.

UCP of Greater Cleveland has a 60% success rate with placing student interns in quality positions as a result of this program, as opposed to the national average of 20% for young adults with disabilities who are not in special programming. If you are interested in learning about how to partner with UCP of Greater Cleveland’s Project SEARCH program, please contact Sharon Meixner, Transition Services Manager, at or (216) 791-8363 ext. 1261.

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Anthony Ianni – Anti-Bullying Presentation on November 13, 2014

Anthony Ianni, one of the most sought after anti-bullying motivational speakers in the region, will be coming to Cleveland on Thursday, November 13, 2014. Anthony will be speaking to students, parents and professionals at a presentation being held at Independence Middle School from 6:30 – 7:30pm. This presentation is FREE and is open to the public.

Anthony Ianni was diagnosed with PDD-NOS (Autism Spectrum Disorder) as a child and he faced immense amounts of bullying while growing up.  He was told by medical specialists that he would never be able to graduate from high school or become a successful athlete. Anthony proved them all wrong. He not only graduated from high school, he also graduated from Michigan State University in 2012.  In addition, Anthony played basketball under coach Tom Izzo to help the Spartans win the Big 10 Conference in 2012!

Anthony has pledged his life and career to help those who face similar challenges. He has been invited to tell his story and share his message across the country and has inspired countless individuals to “LYD”- Live Your Dreams. He will be touring schools throughout Ohio in 2015 and is sponsored by North East Ohio Autism Group.

What: Anti – Bullying Presentation for Parents, Students and Professionals
When: Thursday, November 13, 2014 from 6:30 – 7:30pm
Where: Independence Middle School Auditorium (6111 Archwood Drive, Independence, OH 44131)
Cost: FREE EVENT – Open to the General Public!

For more information, click here.

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