Amego Brings its Special Education Services to Attleboro
Amego brings its more than 35 years of special education experience to Attleboro as the only private, Chapter 766-approved school in the city.
Amego Inc., a private school for special needs students ages 3 to 22, was busting at its seams in a building in Mansfield that did not provide enough space for its administrative offices and day program.
Founded by Massachusetts husband and wife, Henry and Katherine Stokes, Amego is the only Chapter 766-approved school in Attleboro aside from the Bi-County Collaborative. Chapter 766 is the Massachusetts law, which guarantees the rights of all people with special needs to an educational program best suited to their needs.
The group has experienced continued growth and that is what inspired them to leave their 13,000 square-foot space in Mansfield in November and move to a 43,000 square-foot building at 33 Perry Ave. in Attleboro.
The new building includes space for both the children and adult day programs, the administrative offices, a gymnasium and an industrial kitchen.
“They were trying to develop programs for their own kid," Amego Inc. CEO John Randall said of the Stokes. "Like a lot of organizations that started up back then it was family driven."
The duo opened their first program in 1972, the Quincy Day Program, and over the years they have grown to include a fully accredited school, a day habilitation program and a community centered employment program. And they also provide services in 17 private residential homes in the area.
Much of Amego’s work is aimed toward providing independence to those with developmental disorders.
“We build the services around the person so that they can lead as independent a life as possible, but also as meaningful a life as possible,”Randall said. “They might have a road that they want to go down and we try to help them get there.”
Amego is one of the 89 schools that are members of the Massachusetts Association of 766 Approves Private Schools (MAAPS), which is currently running their “All Kids Count” campaign. The campaign was created to equalize funding between public schools and state-approved special education schools.
“The reality is that we serve kids that are outliers, that wouldn’t typically be able to be supported in a public school for any number of reasons,” Randall said. A district that sends a student to Amego typically is required to pay for their education, according to Randall. Additionally, Amego also serves some children whose education is funded through the state’s Department of Children and Families.
The group’s main issue is that while both public school funding and special education funding were cut in the the fiscal year 2011 state budget, special education funds were cut by 42 percent compared to the 2.5 percent cut made to public schools.
Amego’s staff works with both adults (age 22 and older) and children (under 22) and provides services primarily for those with a combination of autism and behavioral issues.
The adults are referred to Amego by the state’s Department of Developmental Services and programs offered for them include in-residential care as well as day programs in Amego’s facilities.
With residential care, three to four people in a home are supported with two to three staffers. The aim is to help them live as independently as possibly, though they still require care.
The day programs offer three different types of care: habilitation, which focuses on clinical needs; community support, which focuses on community integration such as volunteering; and a vocational program.
The vocational program prepares the adults for a workplace environment and allows them the freedom to find their own place of work.
“They’re typically working in a warehouse setting or a grocery store, things like that,” Randall said.
As part of developing freedom and independence, Amego is looking into the use of Apple’s iPad or iPod Touch devices to use an application called Proloquo2Go. Proloquo2Go is a text-to-speech program that uses symbols to indicate certain phrases. Its allows those with speech limitations to communicate more effectively with others.