Home Page  • 

Text Size:

 • 
about-top-ph2 about-top-ph1

Frequently Asked Questions

Click on a question below to reveal the answer. If your question is not listed, please submit it from our feedback form.

What is Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara?

Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara is the Niagara County Chapter of NYSARC, Inc. (formerly the New York State Association for Retarded Children). It is the largest not-for-profit organization in Niagara County providing programs and services to people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. The agency provides day programming, employment and training, service coordination (for any age), recreation (youth and adult), geriatric assessments, exceptional parenting programs, residential services, clinical services, and supportive services to more than 800 families annually.

What is a developmental disability?

The federal definition of developmental disabilities covers persons whose disability occurs before the age of 22 and includes a mental or physical impairment or a combination of both. Examples of developmental disabilities include mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, Down syndrome, autism and neurological impairments.

What is a Medicaid Waiver?

A Medicaid Waiver is money that can pay for services for people with developmental disabilities. These services can take place in the person’s home or in the community. Both children and adults can be supported by Medicaid Waiver services. Medicaid usually pays for doctor appointments, hospital expenses, medicine, therapy and some adaptive equipment. The Medicaid Waiver allows for Medicaid to be used to pay for additional services. The state writes a plan that tells what kind of services will be provided under their Medicaid Waiver program. The federal government has to approve the Medicaid Waiver plan. The Medicaid Waiver dollars are part state and part federal money.

What if I do not live in Niagara County?

Services are available to other geographic localities that border Niagara County and to those relocating to the Niagara County area. Please contact Central Intake/Admissions at (716) 504-2617 ext. 230 or lfalugher@opportunitiesunlimited.org.

My child has been diagnosed with a developmental disability. What do I do now?

Start seeking the right programs and services to support your child’s growth, potential and educational needs. To begin with, it is very helpful to select a single contact to provide objective information to you about the different agencies and programs available to your loved one, and your family, as well as someone to help you with the referral and application processes. The Central Intake or Admissions Department is the best source for educated and caring individuals to answer your questions. Contact them at (716) 504-2617 ext. 230 or lflaugher@opportunitiesunlimited.org to start this process.

My child will be “aging out” of our public school or BOCES program – what now?

Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara’s S.T.E.P.S. Program (School Transition and Employment Program for Success) creates a link to these services by putting a parent’s mind at ease. If eligible, the special education student has options such as supportive services, recreational opportunities, clinical services and residential placement that are available through the agency. The S.T.E.P.S. Program has assisted many students in smoothly transitioning to the adult service system. The school to work transition experience students receive has given many individuals the needed training and work skills to be successful in a job after graduation with support from Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara. The experience also allows the student to “try out” different day and vocational programs if they are not going to immediately enter the workforce or college. Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara is happy to work with your family and your school district to create the best transition experience.

Who is eligible to receive services from Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara?

Individuals must have a developmental disability (defined as a condition occurring before the age of 22 that includes mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism and neurological impairments) to receive the following services:

Individuals over 18 years of age, who meet specific program requirements, are eligible for all services offered by the agency. Individuals under 18 years of age, who meet specific program requirements, are eligible for case management, service coordination, early intervention Medicaid Service Coordination and recreation.

If Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara is not able to address the needs of the individual, we will make a referral to another human service agency that can.

Who do I contact for more information about Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara’s programs and services?

Central Intake/Admissions
2510 Niagara Falls Blvd.
LPO Box 360
Niagara Falls, NY 14304-0360
(716) 504-2617 / FAX (716) 215-0339
lflaugher@opportunitiesunlimited.org

How do people get to the day and pre-vocational programs?

Transportation to our programs and services is available for eligible and enrolled individuals with developmental disabilities in Niagara County through two independent companies — We Care and Carrier Coach. We also encourage use of public transportation as well where available. For information about enrolling with Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara, please contact Central Intake at (716) 504-2617 ext. 230. For questions or concerns regarding transportation, please contact the Transportation Department at (716) 504-2625 ext. 103.

Why choose Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara?

Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara is dedicated to maximizing the quality of life for people of all ages with intellectual and other developmental disabilities and providing the resources for them to reach their greatest potential, achieve their goals, learn to live independent lives and become active participants in their communities.

Myths & Facts

MYTH: People with disabilities are brave and courageous.
FACT: Adjusting to a disability actually requires adapting to a lifestyle, not bravery or courage.
MYTH: All persons who use wheelchairs are chronically ill or sick.
FACT: The association between wheelchair use and illness has probably evolved through hospitals using them to transport sick people. People use wheelchairs for a variety of reasons, not only because they are sick.
MYTH: The use of a wheelchair is confining and people who use them are wheelchair bound.
FACT: A wheelchair is a personal assistive device that enables people to get around just like a bicycle or car does. They are not bound or tied to a wheelchair..
MYTH: Persons who are mentally retarded are violent and crazy.
FACT: This myth is based on fear of anyone who is different. People who are mentally retarded are not any more prone to violence or mental illness than anyone else.
MYTH: All persons with hearing disabilities can read lips.
FACT: Lip-reading is a skill and varies greatly among people who use it. It is also not entirely reliable.
MYTH: It’s all right for those who are non-disabled to park in spaces designated for people with disabilities.
FACT: These spaces should only be used by people with disabilities who need to park in an accessible, barrier-free area.
MYTH: People with disabilities are more comfortable with their own kind.
FACT: Years of isolating people with disabilities in separate schools and institutions has reinforced this misconception. Today, more and more people are taking advantage of new opportunities to join in the mainstream of society.
MYTH: Those who are not disabled are obligated to take care of people with disabilities.
FACT: People may help whomever they choose, but most people with disabilities prefer to be independent and take care of their own needs.
MYTH: Curious children should never ask people about their disabilities.
FACT: Most children have a natural, uninhibited curiosity and ask questions that adults sometimes find embarrassing. But scolding them for asking questions may make them think there is something bad about having a disability. Most people with disabilities don’t mind answering a child’s questions.
MYTH: People who are blind acquire a sixth sense.
FACT: Although most people who are blind develop their other senses more fully, they do not have a sixth sense.
MYTH: The lives of people with disabilities are totally different than those of non-disabled people.
FACT: People with disabilities go to school, work, shop, laugh, cry, get mad, have hobbies and dreams just like everyone else.
MYTH: There is nothing one person can do to help eliminate barriers facing people with disabilities.
FACT: Everyone can contribute to change. You can help remove barriers by:

  • Speaking up when negative words or names are used in connection with disabilities and/or the people who have disabilities.
  • Accepting people with disabilities as individual human beings with the same needs/feelings as you.