Community Living Opportunities was founded in 1977 with a mission to make a meaningful difference across the lifespan of need for children and adults with significant intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) and the families who provide them support.
CLO was founded in Johnson County, Kansas, by a group of parents whose children had severe and multiple disabilities. In a 40 year collaboration with the Department of Applied Behavioral Science at the University of Kansas, CLO developed nationally recognized community-based support models, and became a leader in the implementation of these innovative services.
In the 1970s, institutional services were at their zenith across the nation. At that time, over 200,000 adults and children were living in institutions--2,000 in Kansas alone. There were very few opportunities for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) outside of these state-run institutions. Since then--fueled by the belief and growing research that a better life was possible in the community--institutional populations have steadily declined. In Kansas, CLO led the closure of Norton State Hospital (1986), Pioneer Village (1991), and Winfield State Hospital (1998). CLO further helped the State of Kansas to build the capacity of existing providers and create new service providers to support the great majority of individuals moving from these institutions. As such, CLO remains one of the few private agencies in Kansas today specializing in serving people with severe developmental disabilities.
As CLO pioneered inclusive services models, we also provided enriching, community-focused programs that better meet the needs of persons served through small and specialized home located within single-family neighborhoods. These models include the Neighborhood Network (NN), the Family Teaching Model (FTM), the Professional Family Teaching Model (PFTM), the Intensive Support Model and other dynamic programs.
CLO embraces sharing ideas and best-practice technologies, and has widely disseminated its innovative service models by building the capacity of 501c3 sister-agencies in other areas of Kansas, California, Tennessee, Virginia, and New York. To date, CLO has fostered the development of new programs with current annual budgets in excess of $75 million dollars worth of annual budgeted services.
Outcome-Based Training and Quality Assurance
The first step to implementing a best-practice community living program is to define service expectations and the desired outcomes for the individuals receiving services. CLO strives for these standards:
Pleasant and safe surroundings
Observance of legal and personal rights
Positive relationships with others
Opportunities for choice and control
Effective learning opportunities
High level of participation in daily experiences
Pleasant social environment
CLO employs a nationally regarded and evidence-based quality assurance model for evaluating service quality against these standards, as well as individualized, person-centered outcomes. This approach includes training, coaching, professional evaluations, and consumer satisfaction evaluations that come together as a certification program.
Partnership with KU
For more than four decades, CLO has maintained a close partnership with the Department of Applied Behavioral Science at the University of Kansas. Our partnership with KU ensures that we monitor our progress and the quality of our services, implement changes based on the most current research, and continue to create meaningful services for individuals with differing abilities. CLO embraces sharing our highly successful community living strategies and welcomes the opportunity to consult with other agencies throughout the country to design and implement programs tailored to their needs.