By LOU WILIN
STAFF WRITER

Hancock County Board of Developmental Disabilities won 72 percent of the vote Tuesday and renewed a tax comprising much of its financial lifeblood.

In the only countywide levy on the Hancock County ballot, a 2.5-mill, five-year property tax received 6,850 votes, or 72 percent in favor, to 2,610 votes against.

Results Tuesday from the Hancock County Board of Elections are unofficial and include absentee voting.

“We’re just appreciative. We have always been so well supported in Hancock County,” Superintendent Kelli Grisham said. “I think it’s the work we do. We have an amazing team. We have a lot of support with providers, families, the people we support.

“And I think we’ve always been good stewards of the tax dollar,” she said. “So, I was hopeful that we would be fine (at the polls). But I was totally blown away that it was 72 percent, to be honest.”

The tax approved Tuesday comprises about 45 percent of Blanchard Valley Center’s revenue. Much of it is used to support clients’ residential needs; to give them “day habilitation,” including activities like bowling, going to lunch or a movie; to provide employment and vocational support; and to fund Blanchard Valley School.

Studies have found that early intervention with infants and toddlers showing developmental delays can prevent 33 percent of them from needing any further assistance, Grisham said.

“So we funnel a lot of money into early intervention,” she said.

Blanchard Valley Center sends speech, occupational and physical therapists into the homes of children up to 3 years old showing developmental delays. The specialists teach parents how to do therapy and how to play therapeutically with their children, Grisham said.

For preschool-age children, Blanchard Valley’s preschool integrates children with disabilities with those who have no disabilities.

Some clients attend school at Blanchard Valley School until they are 22 and graduate. But most kids who start at Blanchard Valley’s preschool are later mainstreamed in their local school district, she said.

An additional service helps clients 14 to 22 years old transition to adulthood.

They explore what their lives will be like after school. The program helps them make plans and set goals.

The number of clients served by Blanchard Valley Center fluctuates, but it currently is about 600. Every Hancock County resident who has a developmental disability is supported by Blanchard Valley Center.

Each client has a service and support administrator, a kind of case manager who is responsible for connecting them with needed resources and funding.

Wilin: 419-427-8413
Send an E-mail to Lou Wilin

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