April 01 2023 06:00 pm

Mentors. Friends.
A home away from home.

Mary Cariola Children’s center has a rich tradition in providing innovative programs to individuals with complex disabilities and a myriad of services to their families.

Our enriched educational program provides the youngest of students a solid foundation of learning, while older students follow an educational curriculum and learn life skills while working towards their Certificate of Completion.

Our Community Services Department offers a variety of support to individuals and their families. Our residential program owns and operates six residential homes serving 44 children and adults. The Medicaid Service Coordination Team assists families in navigating the Medicaid process. Our newest program, Enhanced Waiver Services, provides Day and Community Habilitation Services and Therapeutic Respite to individuals with significant behavioral challenges.

Our Specialty Support Services complement the Mary Cariola approach. A team of highly-trained clinical therapists work with students and residents. A variety of medical experts visit the Center on a regular basis offering dental, psychological, neurological, podiatry and other medical consults in a comfortable school setting.
Our teachers, aides and clinicians support more than 400 children and young adults from age 3 to 21 years old. These students come from ten counties and 50 school districts as far away as Hornell and Seneca Falls. Some families have even relocated from across the country, because there's no other place quite like Mary Cariola.

All of the children we serve typically have intellectual disabilites and other challenges, including:

     •A degenerative condition
     •Emotional problems
     •Behavioral issues
     •Cerebral palsy


Mary Cariola's Preschool Program is designed to meet the individual needs of children ages three to five years. Students' abilities and developmental delays can vary significantly, so a range of class sizes and staff ratios are available in our full and half day classrooms. Referrals to the Preschool Program come from the student's home school district.

A major goal of our Preschool Program is to provide intense, often one on one, attention to our students during these formative years. In addition, we hope to maximize every opportunity for academic and social growth, and increase chances for success in a less restrictive environment.


Our School Age Program provides full-day educational programming for students 5 to 21 years of age. This educational programming is individualized and specialized to meet the complex needs of our students based on the significance of their disabilities. Through evidenced-based decision-making, interdisciplinary professional teams utilize innovative educational and therapeutic programming to insure the students make noted progress on their goals.

In addition to services received as part of a student's mandated Individualized Educational Program,(Speech, Occupational, Physical and Vision Therapies), students also receive Adapted Physical Education, Music Therapy, Social Work/Counseling support, Behavioral Programming and when at the appropriate age, Transition Programming, as part of their school day.

Transition Program

Mary Cariola's Transition Program teaches and reinforces a variety of social skills, life skills and to prepare our students when they graduate from Mary Cariola. One of the biggest challenges for our students and residents is to learn how to constructively manage their time when structured work programs or day programs are not in session.

An individual plan is developed for each individual that will include tasks, activities, community outings, projects and work experience opportunities with a variety of partners. The program includes four components:

     •Food preparation (including planning, budgeting and shopping)
     •Leisure activities and hobbies
     •Physical fitness and recreation activities
     •Community service

Community Services

Mary Cariola's Community Services Program prides itself in offering a variety of services to assist families and provide support that cannot be found elsewhere. Community Services includes:

Residential Program

Mary Cariola operates six residential homes across Monroe County. Our residents receive 24-hour care from expert direct care and clinical staff. The staff focuses on life skill development and assisting the individuals to experience all that life and their communities have to offer.

Each home provides a loving family environment in a residential setting. Staff members complete rigorous training in many different areas. Our goal is to enable these individual to unlock their full potential.

Family members are encouraged to participate in residential home activities. Families can visit, take their child home for an overnight, participate in program planning meetings and stay informed with school or house activities. Family involvement is the key to the continued success of each child's development.

Medicaid Service Coordination

The Medicaid Services Coordination (MSC) Program is a Medicaid state plan service that is certified through the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). Eligible participants are children and youth age 3-21who live with their family, in an Individualized Residential Alternative (IRA), or in a certified family care home. Mary Cariola's MSC Program serves over 110 families in the community.

Our MSC's assist families in navigating the very complex OPWDD service system and various other state services. Our MSCs work hard to develop individualized service plans that highlight each individual's personal goals and assist in securing services to meet the unique needs of the individual and family.

For more information contact the MSC Supervisor/Operations Manager, Renee Zemans at rzemans@marycariola.org or 585- 271-0761, ext. 1420.

Behavior Management Services

Our Behavior Management Services program helps eligible families who have children with significant behavioral challenges who live at home. Each individual receives a Functional Behavioral Assessment and a Behavior Support Plan developed specifically for him or her by a Behavioral Intervention Specialist.

The plans address the behavior that is most challenging for the family, providing concrete ways to assist the individual in reducing the negative behavior and developing positive replacement behaviors. Family members will implement this plan and track data to review progress. This program includes family training, monitoring, review and oversight for each plan and participant throughout their time in the program. This can be a stand-alone service.

For more information contact our Waiver Services Manager, Maureen Chaffer at mchaffer@marycariola.org or 585-359-0761

Enhanced Waiver Services Program

Enhanced Waiver Services is uniquely designed for individuals who have significant behavioral challenges and have not been successful in traditional Home and Community Based Waiver Services. These services are Enhanced Community Habilitation and Habilitative Respite. Participants have to be OPWDD eligible and enrolled in the Home and Community Based Waiver.

In Enhanced Community Habilitation, our highly trained staff provides direct care services in the family home and in the community. Our staff implements the Behavior Support Plans developed through our Behavior Management Services to ensure consistency and success. High levels of oversight and monitoring are included in this service. This is not a stand-alone service and has to be paired with Behavior Management Services. VIEW ENHANCED WAIVER SERVICES BROCHURE We are proud to be the first Agency in New York State to offer Habilitative Respite, provided by our Bailey Road Individual Residential Alternative (IRA). It includes habilitation plans (consistent with the community habilitation plans), as well as, the behavior support plan. The participants will have longer scheduled stays that are rotated throughout the year. This is not a stand-alone service. Participants need to be receiving behavior management services and enhanced community habilitation.

For more information contact our Waiver Services Manager, Maureen Chaffer at mchaffer@marycariola.org or 585-359-0761

Ongoing Support Services



Includes creating, singing, moving to, and/or listening to music. Through musical involvement, clients' abilities are strengthened and transferred to other areas of their lives


Focuses on the ability to understand words spoken to you, and expressive language, or the ability to use words to express yourself. It also deals with the mechanics of producing words, such as articulation, pitch, fluency, and volume


Working with individuals on fine motor skills to build or restore abilities to perform daily tasks


Help individuals improve their movement and gross motor skills


Teachers of the Visually Impaired provide direct and consultative services to students with visual impairment in order to maximize growth in all developmental areas


Coordinates the interdisciplinary programs for each individual, provides input to families for advocacy and case management


Trained staff to assess challenging behaviors and implementation of behavior intervention plans for students.


Portable or fully equipped sensory spaces that serve dual purposes…to help reduce agitation and anxiety, or engage and delight the user by stimulating reactions and encouraging communication.


Nursing stations at each campus/residences to administer medications and respond to medical issues


Provides two-way videoconferencing with University of Rochester Medical Center to deliver examinations, treatments, two-way, real time interactive communication between the patient, nursing staff and URMC.


A physical education program that has been adapted to meet the needs of students with disabilities


Provides comprehensive care management services to Medicaid eligible children ages 0-21 with complex medical, behavioral health, and social needs. View the brochure

On-Site Specialty Services



Psychiatric visits and assessments by Dr. John Lynch, MD


Neurological visit and assessments by URMC neurologist, Dr. Jennifer Kwon.


Routine foot care and assessment by Dr. John Turano from Eastside Podiatry.


Comprehensive Dental Care provided by URMC Eastman Dental Institute for oral health


Providing convenient appointments at Elmwood Campus to improve collaboration between child's medical and educational teams


Registered Dietician provides nutritional advice to staff, students and their families


Assistive Technology Speech Language Pathologist on-site for assistive technology consults for students, to best support teacher and clinician efforts


Fonte Healthcare Solutions and Monroe Wheelchair provide measurements and delivery of new equipment; repairs and updates to existing equipment.


URMC's Orthotics and Prosthetics, ROL (Rochester Orthopedic Laboratories) and NEOPS (New England Orthotics and Prosthetics) hold weekly schedules.

Adaptive Equipment Workshop

The Adaptive Equipment Workshop creates, adapts and repairs equipment and devices that improve quality of life for our children and youth. In the past 30 years, the team has released a steady stream of innovations and adaptations to help students and residents tune in, turn on, stand up, and move around.

Their ideas come from Teachers, Therapists Parents, Residential and Workshop staff who often begin a conversation with "I wish we could …" That need turns into a very well thought plan that produces some of their most unique and creative work. Some of those adaptions include:

     •The prone stander. These give a child the ability to stand or let two children stand face to face with a small table top between them to play a game. They help with socialization, have a positive effect on self-image, and have many physical benefits.
     •Switch covers. These groundbreaking covers remove the temptation from children who like to repeatedly turn the lights on and off.
     •Special switch devices. These allow a child to turn music on and off or activate the computer screen with slight finger pressure or a touch of the head.

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