Austins Adult Day Cares Seek Assistance

By Faysia GreenAUSTIN The Austin City Council approved a resolution on Oct. 18 to develop an adult day care center at a city-owned facility. While the development of an adult day care facility has received support from Austin citizens, leadership staff from the existing facilities are calling for help.

An adult day care is a professional care setting where adults with disabilities receive individualized therapeutic, social and health services, according to the National Adult Day Services Association. There are a number of facilities in Austin that deal with individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities.City Manager Spencer Cronk is considering city-owned facilities, like the Rebekah Baines Johnson Public Health Center, to house the proposed adult day care.

Bona Terra Adult Day Center is one of the facilities in Austin that support adults with disabilities. Tracey Riojas, director of Bona Terra, said her facility is like a school.We teach them writing, reading, Spanish and ASL(American Sign Language), Riojas said. We have a variety of things for them to do.At Bona Terra, the staff makes sure that their clients can comprehend basic academics.Patients come in with goals, Riojas said. So if your goal is to read three times a week for 30 minutes, we have to teach you how to do that. If they dont meet their goals, we keep working with them until all their goals are met. Then once your goals are met, they are changed to something a little bit more challenging.

However, academic fundamentals are not the only aspects of an adult day care.We teach them how to budget and how to buy the most for your buck, Riojas said. Instead of Oh, I got $5 in my pocket, and Im going to buy a bag of chips, you can get chips, juice and snacks for that $5.

Mary Lee Foundation and Inspire South are facilities that perform the same tasks for their clients, similar to Bona Terra.Fran Rodda, controller and business manager of Mary Lee Foundation, said they provide classes for job training, cooking and independent living.We do a lot of classes that help the population of people deal with their emotions to empower and defend themselves, Rodda said.

Cathy Ehigie, director and owner of Inspire South, said the facility also does a lot of community integration which enhances social skills.Although these three facilities focus on helping disabled adults through academic and social skills, they all face challenges dealing with limited resources.Our biggest issue is the wages of our employees, Rodda said. We really struggle to obtain and retain employees.Riojas said the situation is crazy to her.People flipping hamburgers are getting paid $12 an hour, Riojas said. We are taking care of human lives. Youre giving more money to someone who flips burgers than someone who takes care of lives.Ehigie said the flat rate for a caregiver in those facilities is $8 an hour.I know how to budget, so I pay my employees a little more than the flat rate, she said.

Without sufficient pay, many employees leave because they cannot pay their bills. Thus, there is not enough staff to fully care for their clients.In addition to low wages, the directors of the facilities expressed needs in other areas.

Sara McDermott, assistant administrator and daybreak director of Mary Lee Foundation, said they need diapers, wet wipes, cleaning supplies and art supplies.Transportation is another issue for some facilities.Riojas only has three buses to take her clients out on outings and field trips. Everyone cannot go out every time, so she rotates people so everyone can get outside.If we have more funding, I could send people on four or five buses so everyone can go out, Riojas said.Ehigie said the city of Austin could also supplement her facilitys efforts by supplying food.

People bring their own lunches, but everyone doesnt have the best diet or have food, Ehigie said. If they dont bring food, well feed them.Despite the issues these adult day centers face, the directors said they value the work they do for the community. McDermott said she is very proud of the individuals there.There is a lady here that used to get physically aggressive when she got upset, McDermott said. After a few classes on anger management and team building skills, she now works five days a week. She volunteers at the animal shelter. And you see her when she gets upset. She doesnt get physically aggressive. She just breathes and walks away.

Riojas, Rodda and Ehigie all support the proposal for a new adult day care, but they want the city council to be more aware of the clients needs.It is essential to the elderly population as well as the disabled population because there is a large portion of adults with disabilities who are unemployed, and they dont have an activity to fulfill their day, Rodda said.Even though wages are low and supplies are limited, most of the staff at these facilities stay because of their affinity to care for others.

Youre working with people, Riojas said. What better place than to spend your 40 hours a week than with other people? Youre employed to work with other people and empower them. Its a great place to be.The city manager will plan for funding the proposed facility after a location is chosen.

Faysia Green is a sophomore journalism and communication and leadership major at The University of Texas at Austin. You can follow her on Twitter @FaysiaG. You can also email her at


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The 3 pin red/green is called common cathode.

A 2 pin with red OR green is a bidirectional LED e.g. Kingbright WP937EGW

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A red green in the same package has the same model as any other LED. If looking for a bidirectional then search for "bidirectional LED".

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