Thursday, December 02, 2021

There has long been a significant void in services for people with disabilities, specifically in having a centralized database and referral system for all special needs related questions. Yachad, the Orthodox Union’s division dedicated to enhancing the lives of individuals with disabilities, has set out to change that with the establishment of its new REACH Resource and Referral Service.

“Our community has long been in need of an extensive referral network for individuals with disabilities and their families. The efforts of the Yachad team will represent a significant and invaluable contribution in addressing that need,” said Orthodox Union President Moishe Bane.

“Yachad provides so many important services and programs to families in our community. This is yet another example of the cutting-edge leadership they are bringing to these families,” emphasized Orthodox Union Executive Vice President Rabbi Moshe Hauer.

Avrumy Jordan, Yachad’s marketing director, discussed the financial challenge to a relatively small community (the Orthodox community at large) of funding so many organizations that seem to provide parallel or duplicate services. “Each organization provides what speaks to them, to meet the needs of those they serve. Each organization has differences,” he said. Although these are sometimes small, subtle differences, they are essential to those with special needs.

These differences can change the world for a child or adult with special needs, and Yachad identified the need to centralize and simplify access to the numerous and various services available. Hence, REACH was born, a new Jewish communal resource and referral service for individuals with disabilities and their families. REACH will help them to “sift” through the resources and focus on the ones they most need.

According to Yachad, the program will initially serve the New York region, with plans to expand operations and eventually accommodate families throughout the United States over time.

REACH aims to provide an organized and centralized referral service for individuals with learning, intellectual and/or developmental disabilities in the Jewish community. These services include various government-funded programs, special education, therapies, social and recreational programs and legal services, among others. The referrals will be data driven and based on criteria and preferences provided by the party seeking the referral.

“In the past, families of those with disabilities had to rely on reaching out to second- and third-degree connections, (often) only to learn that the referral wasn’t related to their immediate need. Our hope in creating one centralized system is to be able to give the most accurate referral based on the caller’s specific disabilities, needs and circumstances—no matter whether that is a Yachad program or another one,” said Yachad International Director Avrohom Adler.

REACH operates as a centralized database for services and referrals, which is accessed by phone. The phone lines are manned by a trained team of professionals at Yachad’s headquarters. A staffer will take the time to understand the caller’s needs while inputting relevant data into the database, which will then develop the most appropriate referrals. After the inquiry, the caller will receive an email with the suggestions including names, contact information and websites for further information.

Those looking for assistance in finding the right types of services can access the service by calling 1-877-Reach-52 (732-2452). The database service is free to utilize. Those providers interested in being added to the database can reach out to [email protected].

By Ellie Wolf

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