Licensed by the Office of People with Development Disabilities (OPWDD), initially, services were limited to the care and treatment of children with cerebral palsy. Over the past 60 years, the agency has shown steady growth in the expansion and innovation of services, and offers a continuum of services for more than 2,500 children, adults, and families each year.
In 1960, the agency began providing half-day preschool education programming. Today, more than 100 children receive preschool education, clinical services, early intervention, and/or home-base therapy through the Empower Children’s Academy. The academy serves both disabled and non-disabled children from birth to five years old.
In 1961, the Handy Cap Group, an “experimental workshop project”, comprised of a loosely organized group of adults with disabilities was established. The workshop completed contract work from area companies. Programming has expanded significantly since the opening of the workshop, and Empower now provides vocational evaluation, training, supported employment, adult education, recreation, day habilitation, and other services for adults with all types of disabilities.
Empower’s residential division was established with the opening of its first residential facility in 1986. Additional facilities opened in subsequent years, and residential services now include Intermediate Care Facilities (ICF), Supportive Apartments, and Individual Residential Alternatives (IRA). This includes the HUD funded Geri Rose Garden Apartment Complex, built in 2003. In addition to housing, individuals may participate in active treatment programming including occupational and physical therapy, or may receive services geared toward living independently.
In 2001, Empower began operating an Article 28 Clinic to provide dental services. The clinic has grown to include podiatry, audiology, and wheelchair services, and physical and occupational therapies.
Other services include service coordination, residential rehabilitation, community-based waiver services, and self-advocacy. All services are individualized based on the needs and goals of the individual and his/her family.
Empower’s administrative offices and programs are located throughout the Town of Niagara, Lockport, Wheatfield, and the City of Niagara Falls.