Given the scarcity of updated data on the population of adults with intellectual disabilities in Puerto Rico, these citizens face the lack of accessible services, supportive community homes, and job opportunities.
Likewise, the organizations that provide aid and services to this population lose access to economic funds to continue their programs.
For that reason, more than 15 organizations have joined the Intellectual Disability Initiative, organized by Puerto Rican digital platform Sociants, which seeks to collect data on the needs of the adult population with intellectual disabilities on the island.
“We need to expose the gaps in social services that are not currently available to this population,” said Esther Caro, executive director of Asociación Mayagüezana de Personas con Impedimentos Inc. (AMPI).
“We want to promote the employability and development of community homes enabled for adults with intellectual disabilities. To achieve this, we need data,” she said.
Caro urged family members or caregivers of adults with intellectual disabilities to share their needs through the initiative. First, they must visit www.MisNecesidades.org to register the adult with intellectual disabilities on the platform; once their information is registered, they will be able to identify their needs through the survey “Intellectual Disability Initiative.”
“Through the survey, we will be able to collect information on the level of functionality of the individual, where they are and what services they receive, in order to facilitate case management and strengthen statistics for this population in Puerto Rico,” said social worker Karla Vargas, project manager at Sociants.
Initiative develops new support network
“The lack of connection and coordination among organizations and available resources in Puerto Rico has resulted in an impoverishment of the development of adults with intellectual disabilities, as well as their social inclusion,” Vargas said.
To address the issue, 15 nonprofit organizations that provide resources and assistance services to the functional diversity population have established a digital support network. Network members now have a digital platform to manage cases together, allowing them to identify needs of individuals and connect them with the available resources of organizations, organizers said.
The nonprofits that make up the Support Network are: Asociación Mayagüezana de Personas con Impedimentos Inc. in Mayagüez; Instituto Psicopedagógico de Puerto Rico Inc. in Bayamón; Instituto de Adiestramiento en Vida Independiente Inc. in Bayamón; Colegio de Educación Especial y Rehabilitación Integral Inc. in San Juan; Centro de Ayuda y Terapia al Niño con Impedimento Inc. in Moca; Mis Amigos de Síndrome Down Inc. in Carolina; Centro Margarita Inc. in Cidra; Autenticorillo Inc. in Barceloneta; Fundación Mi Gran Sueño Inc. in Aguada; Instituto Pre-Vocacional e Industrial de PR Inc. in Arecibo; Fundación Puertorriqueña Síndrome Down Inc. in San Juan; Asociación Inclusión Adultos Discapacidad Intelectual Inc. in Bayamón; Centro Adiestramiento para Personas con Impedimentos Inc. in Aibonito; and Apoyo a Padres de Niños Con Impedimentos Inc. in San Juan.
The Banco Popular Foundation and Seriously Creative are also collaborating in the initiative.
“At Sociants we have always taken into account that people’s needs cannot wait, and collaboration between community providers is essential for social development. Through technology, we support organizations connect quickly and easily with the individuals who need them,” said Vargas.