Meeting a Need: LGBTQ Supports for People with Special Needs

Monday, July 23
1:45 PM - 3:00 PM
Location: Grand Ballroom D

The Arc Mercer of New-Jersey has launched a unique and much-needed organization that supports LGBT people with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities. The organization, known as the Special Needs Alliance for Pride (SNAP), formed in June of 2017. Its overarching goal is to assist people who are doubly challenged by stigma. It received a great deal of media coverage, which is detailed below.

Since its founding last year, SNAP has been building bridges into the mainstream LGBTQ community through coalition building programs. The aim is to foster integration and support among people with special needs who are feeling alienated as the try to express their sexuality.

The presentation will cover the following:

1. Recognition of Need and Expanding SNAP
2. Replication of SNAP
3. Engaging Media Coverage
4. The Importance of Counseling as a Key Component
5. Fostering LGBT Special Needs Adoption

Steven P. Cook

Executive Director
Arc of Mercer County

Steve Cook has served as Executive Director since 2006. Previously, he served as a civil engineer and later as Chief of Staff to State Senator Peter Inverso, (NJ). During his tenure, Arc Mercer has seen the development of many innovative and progressive programs. Highlights include a "complete" healthcare center that hosts doctors, a psychiatrist, podiatrist, and behavioral counseling. Outcomes include the virtual elimination of "crisis visits”, and a 550% reduction in hospitalizations.

Arc Mercer has also spearheaded "state of the art" transportation that serves the entire community, vocational programs that have doubled in size, and added innovative training in automotive repair, landscaping and pet care, in addition to enhancements to traditional career paths.

Recently, Arc Mercer has launched a program to support LGBTQ individuals with special needs, one of the nation's first. Incorporating community inclusion and counseling supports for individuals, it serves as a role model to be replicated nationwide.


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Meeting a Need: LGBTQ Supports for People with Special Needs


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