TROY — In 2022, the Miami County Board of Developmental Disabilities, known locally as Riverside, celebrated 70 years of service. Riverside began in 1952 as a grassroots movement by parents of children with developmental disabilities. While once primarily in existence for educational and vocational purposes, federal and state laws brought many changes to the developmental disabilities service system.
Today, said Brian W. Green, superintendent, Riverside’s mission is to empower people with developmental disabilities to live, work and play as full members of our community. Riverside achieves its mission by coordinating and providing funding for such as in-home care, adult day services, job training and transportation. These services are funded in part through local levy dollars and are delivered through a network of local provider agencies and independent caregivers. Riverside also directly provides case management, early intervention services for children ages 0-3 with developmental delays through in-home services to help families stimulate development in communication skills, motor development, early learning skills and social-emotional development. Riverside also provides recreational activities, Special Olympics programs and free trainings for caregivers to ensure the highest quality of care for those we support. From newborn babies to senior citizens, Riverside serves more than 1,000 people of all ages in Miami County.
Riverside took many opportunities to celebrate its rich history in 2022. Through sharing stories in our newsletters with former agency leaders, family members of people supported and even with people served, we aimed to reflect on the caring and supportive spirit in the Miami County community that has upheld the organization throughout the years. A highlight of our year of celebration was hosting a “Touch A Truck” event on May 14, in which the community was invited to get an up-close look at a wide variety of large vehicles in a fun atmosphere. More than 1,500 people of all ages came out to enjoy a day of fun, food and festivities with us.
The year 2022, while exciting and celebratory, also brought new challenges as Riverside continued moving past the COVID-19 pandemic. The most notable challenge we faced was the shortage of workers in our field. Known in the system as direct support professionals, the caregivers who provide direct services such as personal care, job training, transportation and much more, are in short supply, and lives are at stake. Riverside invested much time and effort in 2022 into recruiting and retaining these caregivers who provide essential life-giving services every day. And while the number of caregivers is low, the need for services continues to grow. Year 2022 saw a 2.3% increase the number people ages 3 through adulthood, and a massive 15% increase in the number of babies ages 0-3 who need early intervention services. These numbers are expected to keep growing.
Despite the challenges of increasing need and the shortage of workers, Riverside continues to deliver on its mission. Examples include life skills and self-advocacy programming, as well as Special Olympics. Riverside operates and oversees the Miami County Special Olympics program, offering nine sports programs throughout the year. Through partnerships with local donors and foundations, the Miami County Special Olympics program supported 75 athletes, many of whom were able to travel to regional and state tournaments for their sport. The camaraderie experienced and confidence gained by these athletes propels them to success in other areas of their lives. We are grateful to the community for their generous support of these programs, which make a difference in many lives each day.
There are many opportunities to get involved at Riverside. For more information about Riverside, visit www.riversidedd.org or call 937-440-3000.